Solar power in the third world

Solar power technology used in the Third World is a small, but critical, part of the solar industry, said Paula Mints, principal analyst, Navigant Consulting, PV Services Program, Palo Alto, Calif. Mints delivered the Market Overview seminar Oct. 27 during the Solar Power International Conference that ran through Oct. 29 at the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center.

“Solar systems are acting as village power systems. They power computers, refrigerators. Solar in the remote, developing world is profoundly changing lives. These are villages that will never get grid power, and they don’t get wind, so they can’t rely on [wind power]," Mints said.

These off-grid segments constitute a small part of the worldwide solar industry, “just 5 [percent] to 7 percent of the [photovoltaic segment of the] industry,” she said.


Alcan solar espresso cooker.

PV isn’t the only solar segment making a mark in the Third World, as Alcan Inc., Montreal, displayed during the conference. Alcan showed a solar espresso cooker with  aluminum reflector plates. The cooker is a miniature version of those used in the Clean Development Mechanism Solar Cooker Project Aech 1 in Indonesia. Through the project, organized by the Germany’s Kimaschutz e.V., 1,000 households in the Aech region of Indonesia received a CDM solar cooker. The project is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 24,500 tons squared over seven years by reducing the use of non-renewable firewood consumption for cooking, according to an Alcan release.

Alcan Singen GmbH, Germany, financed the project and supplied the aluminum reflector plates with nanoceramic solar-surface-lamination, according to a company release.

“This part of the industry is doing more than changing the environment. This part is profoundly changing lives,” Mints said.