How solar power is revolutionising the developing world

Does solar power have the potential to transform poverty-stricken regions? Harriet King explores how the sustainable energy resource is opening a multitude of new opportunities across developing countries. 

The advantages of solar power are becoming increasingly evident, and everyday more and more countries are turning to the promising source of renewable energy in order to overcome issues of poverty and corruption.

The growth is in light of the International Solar Alliance, led by India

Jimmy_Joe/Creative commons license

Jimmy_Joe/Creative commons license

at the Paris climate conference, which invites 120 countries to collectively support the expansion of solar technologies in the developing world. Countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal and Ghana are now also building solar farms and installing solar panels across their countries as an alternative solution to unreliable energy sources.

Why Solar?

There are multiple reasons as to why solar energy is spearheading the clean energy market. The sun, as one of the most powerful sources of energy, means solar is as a guaranteed form of sustainable consumption – generating electricity at a price effective cost. The price for installation and upkeep of solar power is minimal compared to fossil fuels and other sources. Solar energy systems generally require little maintenance, and most manufacturers guarantee that the systems will work efficiently for 20-25 years.

Solar energy is also universal, and can be applied diversely. Not only can it produce electricity in areas without access to the energy grid, but also distil water in regions with limited clean water supplies. Technology within the industry is constantly developing and adapting to a sundry market, meaning both richer and poorer countries will be introduced to the same advancements. In the future, it is predicted that innovations within the sector would mean double, or even triple, the current electrical turnover of solar power.

India Sets The Trend

In July this year, India signed an agreement with the World Bank to borrow over $1bn in order to build and develop a flourishing solar power sector. The decision meant a step in the right direction for the country’s president, Narendra Modi, whose green dream is to install 175GW of renewable power by 2022 – mostly solar. Despite this highly ambitious target, the goal is achievable and Modi has shown persistent commitment to the industry: “The world must turn to the sun to power our future. As the developing world lifts billions of people into prosperity, our hope for a sustainable planned rests on a bold, global initiative,” he said in a statement at COP21.

Officially the second most populous country in the world, India is the ideal country to front the solar energy movement. It has an average of 300 sunny days a year, meaning a guarantee of solar power generation. Neighbouring developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, also experience the same climate therefore would find solar power highly advantageous and can follow in India’s footsteps.

Solar Power and Development

Nancy Pelosi/Creative commons license

Nancy Pelosi/Creative commons license

India is in the position to prove the potential of solar power in terms of development and prosperity. Out of 250 million households across the country, 56 million struggle to maintain electricity, the majority of which are located in rural areas. In total, one in four people in India do not have access to a source of electricity – an obstacle that stops poorer communities from going to work and receiving an education.

Off-grid solar installations, suitable for single homes or small clusters of buildings, could prove extremely helpful in these areas. Students throughout rural areas are unable to be educated, as they are either not equipped to go to school and complete their studies due to lack of technology – many lack basic needs to study such as adequate light.

Solar power would not only benefit schools and workplaces, but also create thousands of well-paid jobs within the industry itself. India is one of many countries experiencing heightened poverty in certain areas due to a lack of resources. Electricity can change the lives of families, communities, and entire regions.

Essentially, sunlight is free and solar power comes a very little cost. The solar power industry is proving a stable, cost-effective, trustworthy, reliable business which is applicable to all countries, communities and regions throughout the world. If government projects, NGOs, and research funds invested time and effort into solar energy projects, we could see a huge decline in poverty and destitution, and a rise in demographic equality and education across developing countries.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.


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