You are here

PV markets growing in emerging economies

Shashank Kirloskar is a professional business analyst. Apart from his profession he is a freelance writer for Lancosolar.com. He loves writing and sharing articles related to solar energy and companies offering solar panel for homes and commercial buildings.

Posted: 
26. August 2014 - 13:09
Solar energy has been embraced by the West as a clean alternative to standard electrical usage, but in emerging markets, solar energy addresses more than environmental concerns. It addresses the need to maintain health, communication and education systems in countries struggling to develop.
photovoltaics on private home

Solar energy is a rapidly growing industry in the developed world with millions of homeowners opting to install photovoltaics (PV) as a means of reducing out of control energy costs and reducing pollution in an already overburdened environment.

Photovoltaic technology is also gaining a strong foothold in emerging economies, where off-grid power is a requirement to further health, education, communication and development. Examples of rapidly growing PV markets in emerging economies include sub-Sahara Africa and developing Asian countries.

While some power connections are available in these markets, the availability can be very limited and are plagued with frequent outages. Reliable access to electricity can literally be the difference between life and death in some parts of the world.

In some emerging markets, incomes are on the rise. As incomes rise, so does the demand for electronic consumer goods. This further leads to a demand for a reliable power source.

In some of the emerging markets, residents are currently dependent on diesel powered generators which are both expensive to operate and contribute to health and environmental concerns. Solar power systems can be used as a back-up system or as a main source of electrical power. The use of solar systems will allow these markets to further develop their infrastructure in a way that is environmentally clean and relatively inexpensive.

In rural areas where there is little incentive for electric companies to make costly extensions to their grid, off-grid PV can meet these communities’ needs for reliable electricity. The most recent PV manufacturers’ technology is available with batteries. The use of batteries allows the energy that is created but not used to be stored for later use.

Batteries significantly increase the cost of solar systems by up to 40 per cent and the batteries have a limited life span and will need to be replaced at some point. However, they will allow critical energy supplies to be available to power hospitals, communication and education, all badly needed in some emerging markets. Solar power systems, once installed, do not require detailed knowledge to maintain and use, also making them a solid option for emerging markets.

In 2008, the World Bank funded major projects to provide solar power in Bangladesh and northwestern China. This was a boon to families and small businesses in these underdeveloped regions. The GOEDED Foundation has provided more than 100 solar systems for a province in North Vietnam. These projects have allowed businesses to grow and allowed children to have access to educational programs and DVDs.

Financial institutions are also well positioned for playing an important role in financing PV usage in emerging markets by offering loans for solar energy systems and backing power companies’ expansion into more isolated areas. Payment options can help communities avoid the large up front development costs associated with installing PV systems and extending power grids.

Solar appears to have tremendous potential in emerging markets where conventional electricity is in short supply and often cost prohibitive. As the price of fossil fuels continue to increase, solar has emerged as a reliable and inexpensive alternative for nations struggling to build their infrastructure and advance technologically.