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Governments Across the Developing World Have Made Rural Electrification a High Priority Over the Last Two Decades

By Messenger, Harold W.

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Book Id: WPLBN0000028134
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.8 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: Governments Across the Developing World Have Made Rural Electrification a High Priority Over the Last Two Decades  
Author: Messenger, Harold W.
Language: English
Subject: Economics, Finance & business, World Bank.
Collections: Economics Publications Collection
Publication Date:
Publisher: The World Bank


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Messenger, H. W. (n.d.). Governments Across the Developing World Have Made Rural Electrification a High Priority Over the Last Two Decades. Retrieved from


Executive Summary: 1. Experience across the developing world confirms the technical reliability of photovoltaic (PV) systems in a variety of settings. Under the right conditions, solar home systems (PV systems designed for home use) can offer lighting and other services to large numbers of households that are poorly served by existing energy sources or have no service at all. This Report identifies an important economic niche for such systems within rural electrification programs. PV systems are an effective complement to gridbased power, which is often too costly for sparsely settled and remote areas. For such rural conditions, fuel-independent, modular solar home systems can offer the most economical means to provide lighting and power for small appliances. -- 2. PV systems are safer and more convenient than kerosene lanterns and dry cell or automotive batteries which are widely used in developing countries for lighting and to power small appliances. Solar home systems are especially attractive to women and children, who rely heavily on household energy services for a range of activities. As a renewable energy source, PV systems are also environmentally friendly and reduce reliance on expensive imported fuels. -- 3. Despite these appealing features, solar home systems do not yet have broad market acceptance and face significant barriers to widespread diffusion. The main obstacle is their initial purchase price, which puts them out of the reach of all but upperincome households. Opportunities exist to reduce the cost of solar home systems significantly over the near future. These include the outlook for steady decline in PV module prices on the international market, the savings possible from judicious use of locally-made and/or locally-assembled components as well as the economies of scale in procurement, sales and servicing that an enlarged customer base can provide. However, even with these cost reductions, unless adequate financing arrangements, geared to lowand middle-income households, are in place, solar home systems cannot play a significant role in rural electrification. -- 4. Many early solar home system programs of the 1970s and 1980s failed, due to a variety of factors. These included unreliable technical performance, poor system design, lack of ongoing, qualified technical support, implementing agency shortcomings, poor attention to cost recovery, and unrealized user expectations and consequent dissatisfaction. Recent programs have benefited from the lessons learned from these experiences and from technological improvements. As a result, solar home systems now show a robust potential for long-term sustainability. ASTAE field investigations of PV household electrification programs in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the Dominican Republic, and the Philippines indicate various paths to program success. However, as noted throughout this Report, the need to overcome the first cost barrier is a sine qua non in any country context.


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