Even a beggar can go solar in Bangladesh, Dipal Barua says.
During my recent trip to Abu Dhabi for the Zayed Future Energy Prize and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, I got to spend quite a bit of time chatting with Dipal Barua, a longtime solar energy leader who was actually the first winner of the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) -- back when there was just one winner a year!
Dipal may not be as well known as some of the more recent winners, but I think he fully deserved to be the first person to take home the prize.
One of the most popular articles I wrote in 2014 was about the solar revolution in Bangladesh -- an energy revolution that many people still haven't heard of but that is one of the best solar country stories out there. As head of the country's solar energy association, Dipal is better positioned than perhaps anyone else to discuss this energy revolution, and provide recent figures on it. You can watch the video interview below, and a few highlights are listed in text below that.
* Dipal intends to help make Bangladesh the "first solar nation in the world."
* So far, the country has 4.5 million solar systems installed in the country, resulting in a benefit for ~25 million people.
* >100,000 people are employed by the home solar industry alone.
* In the last few years, Dipal estimates that ~1 million systems a year were being installed, but he estimates that now ~35,000 new systems are being installed per month, as the market has become a bit saturated.
* Dipal estimates that the whole country will be covered by solar by 2021.
* Even a beggar can now buy a solar home system in Bangladesh. It is more cost effective than diesel fuel for lamps.