The problem of rural electrification has been traditionally handled by conventional means in a process of successive approximations. In this process, the most remote and dispersed population is attracted to larger population centers, which are then served by a mini-electrical local grid, fed by diesel gen-sets or small hydroelectric generators. As the load increases, a point is reached at which extensions of the main grid become economically viable. This process is known as pre-electrification among electric companies and has been the basic growth mechanism of the interconnected system in rural areas. Although effective from a purely technical/economic point of view, this pre-electrification process has several downsides...

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Water Pumping in the Sahel

The Regional Solar Programme (RSP) was one of the early systematic programs to apply PV technology to solve pressing problems in the Sahel region of sub-Saharan Africa. Financed by a grant from the European Commission, to cover the cost of PV equipment and other procedures

such as training, information and public awareness activities, regional coordination and technical assistance, this program was launched in 1989. The goal of the RSP was to install almost 1.4MWp of PV modules (about 3.5% of the world market at that time) in water-pumping systems, vac­cine refrigerators, community lighting and battery-charging stations. At the end of the program, a total of 626 pumping systems and 644 communal systems had been installed and a wealth of lessons learned.

The principal objectives of ...

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Sri Lanka

An estimated two million households lack access to grid electricity in this country. Recent studies indicate that at least 10% of these households could afford a SHS at current prices, based on a monthly household income of Rs. 5000 (about €85) [53]. A market study commissioned by the National Development Bank of Sri Lanka in 1991 indicated that a market of 360 000 households could afford a PV system [54]. However, so far only about 15000 such systems had been sold commercially for cash by 2002 through a retail network.

Many reasons have been cited for this low penetration level. As in other places, the biggest barrier for the exploitation of this market has been a lack of consumer financing...

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The number of people in Mexico with no access to electricity has decreased in the past 10 years, mostly by grid extensions with some modest contribution from renewables, mainly PV. A highly dispersed rural population and a rough terrain make grid extensions technically difficult and econom­ically unviable, so conventional electrification rates have decreased in recent years. On the other hand, former government programs for poverty alleviation, such as PRONASOL (1989), PRO – GRESA and OPORTUNIDADES, which were the source of funds for PV rural electrification, have been phased out or have declined to small local projects. Hence, the number of PV installations has remained practically unchanged in the last few years...

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PV rural electrification projects in Brazil started in the period 1992-1993 [44]. Around 1500 SHS were installed as part of these projects in Northeast Brazil in cooperation with the local electricity distribution companies, who were responsible for systems installation, maintenance and performance monitoring. An initiative to promote the use of renewable energy was launched in 1995 with the goal of installing 50MWp of PV systems by the year 2005 [45]. PRODEEM, a program for energy development in municipalities and states was launched in 1994 to deliver electricity by means of renewable energy to rural communities not served by the grid [46]...

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The National Rural Electrification Program (PRONER) was established to promote and support economic development in rural areas in order to improve the living conditions and the quality of life of the population. The original objective of the program was to provide electrical services to 100 000 households in a time span of five years by means of renewable energy. To accomplish this ambitious goal, a number of projects have been carried out since early 1977. It is estimated that the total number of SHS systems installed to date is over 25 000, over half of them implemented after the year 2000 at a rate close to 2000 PV systems per year. However, most installations have gone to meet the needs of rural people with higher purchase power...

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As part of the reform of the electrical sector in Argentina, the provincial electricity markets were divided into centralized and dispersed sectors. Each sector has its own structure, its own mission and its own operational form. Then, the program to supply electricity to the rural and dispersed population of Argentina (PAEPRA for its name in Spanish) was established by the government in 1994. This program has the goal of providing electricity to 1.4 million people not yet served by the grid, and to electrify around 6000 public services, all this in areas where the low population density and the long distance to the electric grid makes it too costly to supply electricity by conventional means [37]...

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It is estimated that by the end of the twentieth century, anywhere between 500 000 and one million small PV systems had been installed to power rural homes in developing countries [12]. On top of that, tens of thousands of PV-powered water-lifting pumps and other communal services, such as health centers, schools, telephones, street lamps, had been deployed through government programs, donor-led initiatives and entrepreneurial activities. Many such programs have been subject to in­depth reviews as a means to better understand the process that is taking place in the field and to harvest the lessons learned that can be applied to other projects and programs. For details, the reader is encouraged to consult available reports (see for instance references [33-36])...

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