On-grid solar energy struggled for many years with the image of being too expensive and not powerful enough. Only recently has the realization become more widespread that massive state subsidies are what make atomic and coal power affordable.There has also been a growing awareness that political risks, environmental damage, and radiation make the use of fossil and atomic energies increasingly problematic. Alternatively, various programs have worked to introduce the solar industry onto the market, making it an attractive capital investment. This has happened, no least, because the so-called “developed” world is most easily convinced by money. Unfortunately, this has also led to a situation in which banks and investors have reduced the solar market to an investment property.The off-grid solar world looks a lot different! For many people in developing countries, solar energy is the only possible energy supply. For them, discussions about environmental protection, still being carried out with ideological undertones in Europe and the U. S., play no role. Those who have been forced to live with diesel or kerosene powered instruments would not hesitate in choosing a clean and healthy solar solution. Yet questions still remain: Is this energy too expensive? Electricity prices from solar facilities are clearly lower than those of diesel or kerosene. Is it energy efficient? Solar energy stipulates the use of LED rather than energy saving bulbs and televisions and refrigerators with low energy consumption rather than energy wasters with a stand-by function. Is solar energy subsidized? Hardly. People at the lowest end of the world income scale are demonstrating how to create an economically and ecologically sensible energy supply. They may still be at the bottom of the world affluence scale. But time is working for them. After all, they have the advantage of a non-subsidized, clean, independent, and safe energy source. Soon enough, those who are last could become first. (hs)
Harald Schützeichel is founder and chair of the Stiftung Solarenergie – Solar Energy Foundation, www.stiftung-solarenergie.org.
Source: sun-connect 6 | July 2011 (p. 1)