While friends of coal and oil continue to try and scupper the renewable energy revolution that's underway, the fact is that whole communities in poor, rural areas are getting their first taste of electricity—and they are doing so without ever having to use fossil fuels.
We've already posted the news that solar is now cheaper than kerosene for many rural communities, and shown how innovative business models like pay-as-you-go solar are kick starting cottage industries and micro-entrepreneurial enterprises. But this video from Voice of America provides some interesting insight into how product manufacturers are specifically shaping their offerings for off-grid, rural settings where cost of entry and dependability/storability of power have a higher value than absolute efficiency or high power output.
What will be interesting to see will be how much the off-grid applications in Africa and Asia shape the technology that finds its way into European and American markets—especially if increased capacity pushes prices of thin-film panels down even further.
Watch this space.