Solar photovoltaic energy
Originally designed for the outdoor leisure market in Western countries, this simple lantern with a
small PV module (5 - 10 watts) is ideal for use in rural areas of developing countries to replace
Glowstar - Kenya
The solar lantern, "Glowstar" has been designed as a low-cost alternative to a solar home
system and is intended to allow rural families in Kenya to climb the first step on the "energy
ladder". The lantern is cheap to maintain and harnesses a free and plentiful source of energy
as it is powered by sunshine. The solar lantern kit consists of a photovoltaic panel, and a
lantern containing a high efficiency lamp, a rechargeable battery and a charge control circuit.
The solar lantern is ideal for any application where there is no local connection to grid
electricity such as rural households and farms, schools and colleges, hospitals, health clinics
and other community centres. It also has important applications where there is an inconsistent
or unreliable supply of electricity.
Source: Practical Action Consulting.
In recent years solar PV has been
coupled with Light Emitting Diodes
(LEDs) to provide energy efficient light.
Recent advancements in LED
technology have led to the development
of white light emitting diodes (WLEDs).
WLEDs provide a bright white light that
is ideal for domestic lighting. The
advantage of using LEDs with solar PV
systems is that the LED requires a
much lower wattage (less than
conventional compact fluorescent light
bulbs), therefore the size and the cost
of the solar system are much reduced
for each household.
Figure 4: A woman with her locally made WLED
lamps, Nepal. Photo credit: Practical Action / Rakesh
Solar PV can be used for providing power for small grid systems, with centralised power generation.
As the cost of PV cell production drops, their use for medium scale electricity production is being
adopted more widely. There is also scope for large-scale electricity production for such applications
as peak power provision.
Sagar Island - solar island
Sagar Island is in the south-western corner of the Ganges delta, in India. The West Bengal
Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) has been working on Sagar Island since 1996
to address the problem of energy supply. Since then it has set up a total of 11 small solar PV power
plants, on Sagar Island and its neighbour Maushuni Island. Each plant has its own mini-grid system
that distributes electric power to the surrounding villages. The grids are switched on for six hours a
day, from 6pm to midnight, and are managed by cooperative societies formed by the villagers who
use the power.
The 11 power plants in operation supply stable and reliable 400 / 230V, 3 phase, 50Hz power for
six to seven hours a day through local distribution lines. The combined capacity of the plants is
400Kw and WBREDA estimates that a further 400Kw is needed in order to electrify all the villages
in the two islands.
Source: Ashden Trust Awards for Sustainable Energy