Every country in the world has benefited by the marked reduction in the cost of solar panels in the past two decades. Academics say that solar energy may even be more critical for the future of developing countries than for industrialized nations.
In order to learn more about the promise of solar energy for developing countries, we spoke to Sanjeev Mansotra.
One of the reasons that solar energy is so critical for the stability and economies of developing countries is that many developing countries are located either near the equator or in places that have massive deserts. Thus, there is an abundance of sun. These locations also tend to suffer from a lack of major rivers or biomass that could be other sources of renewable energy. Thus, many developing countries have to rely upon solar or wind energy as their main renewable energy resources. Wind, of course, is not as consistent a source of energy as solar in most locations.
Another big issue regarding location is that the pipelines being developed for oil delivery around the world are primarily being routed through developed countries that have made major deals with the larger gas and oil-producing countries. An example is the Nord Stream II natural gas pipeline that is being routed from Russia to deliver energy to European countries such as Germany. Developing countries are often left out of such deals.
For homes in developing countries, the main source of cooking and heating energy often comes from either wood or kerosene. The latter creates toxic fumes indoors. The former, in some areas, is in short supply. Even when fuel wood is plentiful, families can suffer the effects of inhalation of smoke indoors when cooking and heating. Solar energy, though, is produced with no toxic effects. The panels last for 25 or more years. Solar cookers are easily produced with mostly local materials.
Buildings can also be designed according to passive solar principles that allow mass inside of the house to absorb the sun’s energy by day and emit warmth at night, as the building cools. Solar energy can be stored in the home in concrete, bricks, adobe, stone and large water drums. By carefully designing roof overhangs, passive solar heating is possible, avoiding overheating the residence by day.
Certainly, it appears that countries who are in some way either oil producers or who lie along paths of proposed gas and oil pipelines seem in danger of bullying, sanctions and war by larger nations who have a desire to control who gains from the world’s oil and gas production. If petrochemical resources in the world are so limited that massive and bloody wars are breaking out in response to scarcity, it behooves developing countries to build a solid foundation upon solar or whatever renewable resource is most viable in their area. Hopefully, building their economy and infrastructure on a renewable resource will keep their country peaceful, safe and prosperous and help their citizens enjoy the fruits of nature.
Everyone around the world is benefiting from the lower costs of the panels, since Japan and Germany have led the way in creating subsidies for adoption of solar panels by their industries and populace. Also, around the world, people are in favor of such a low-impact form of renewable energy, so adoption has increased. This has created a demand and greater manufacturing capacity that has brought the price for solar panels down such that adoption is economically feasible. In fact, in some places suffering from higher energy prices, solar is a need.
This reduction in the price of solar panels has benefited developing countries. They are in a better position to be able to afford solar installations without having to borrow large sums of money from the IMF or other large world banking lenders. This also helps to keep developing countries independent and free because they do not have to amass large indebtedness in order to adopt solar energy on a widespread scale.
Business leaders like Sanjeev Mansotra hope that developing countries eschew a reliance on world oil and gas reserves and instead build a residential and commercial infrastructure based upon the most renewable resource on the planet – the sun. In this way, Mansotra hopes his country will remain independent financially and politically.