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The sunny south
Document type: article
Solar panels were first introduced to Africa during the 1970s. A number of large systems were installed to power electric wire fences around game reserves and to pump water from wells. In the early 1990s, solar energy began to be used for households, enabling many their first access to electricity for the first time. It is impossible to connect all of the often dispersed villages in rural Africa to the central grid. Solar panels offer a great alternative: a small US$ 100 system is cheaper than the generators that are widely used - and does not need petrol. Both commercial entrepreneurs and development agencies are involved in promoting solar energy in Africa – with different perspectives on what are the best ways forward. Solar systems give rural Africans a light in the evening and help them charge their precious mobile phones. Innovative applications of solar, such as seawater desalination, is still a very expensive solution for the Sahel. What about putting solar energy to productive use in agriculture? Small electric grinders for household use can run on solar power. For large-scale applications like ploughing fields, solar is not yet suitable. This requires integrated renewable energy policies: a smart and combined use of wind, biomass and solar energy. Africa has all of these in abundance.
Africa South of Sahara
© 2009 IDP. This article has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license.
Environment and Natural Resources
The sunny south