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Village Power PV Applications

According to United Nations International Children's Education Fund(UNICEF) sources, Norway, Canada and the US traditionally spend the most on helping to provide PV power for basic needs in the world's developing villages.

Solar electric modules are typically used to power:

- medical lighting
- dentistry equipment
- indoor area lighting
- village area illumination
- drinking water purification
- portable independent lighting
- refrigeration for medical vaccines
refrigeration for basic nourishment
- village water pumping for irrigation and drinking water
- PV powered ceiling fans and swamp-cooler type solar air conditioning.
- portable power for radio, television (long-distance education)and computer power needs

Historically, over the past decade photovoltaic power has helped subsistent village agriculturists become marginally profitable. Expanding farmers learn to depend on telecommunications and other emerging industry involvement, helping to upgrade quality of life in the developing villages.

U.S. Utility Interest
The largest suppliers of utility grade power in the US (UPVG) continue to investigate international markets and their potential leverage for lowering domestic PV prices. With current potential total electrical requirements in the range of <75 GW, PVUG projects the estimated, early village electrification market to be near 300 MW with as much as 25% deliverable with photovoltaic power. Because approximately 85 percent of all US domestic PV module production is sold in overseas markets and because anecdotal market information suggests that international village electrification can be justified at prices several dollars higher than for industrialized markets, under appropriate circumstances, village-power markets represent one of the most promising opportunities for early PV expansion.

Village-Scale Electrification
For 1995 through 1997 photovoltaic power continues growing in worldwide acceptance as a viable and cost-effective power source for rural electrification. PV continues emergence as an important alternative to conventional rural and remote power strategies.

Prior to 1990, virtually all electric power investments in the developing countries were committed to meeting the needs of the large urban and industrial areas. 1.5 billion people live in rural villages without the benefit of electric power. Additionally, many electric utilities in developing countries suffer from poor reliability coupled with large debt loads. Many existing grids in such areas are inefficient and/or poorly managed, encouraging uncollected revenues and other losses. Such infrastructural instability may prevent local utility companies from covering their operating costs, much less the costs of grid expansion. Photovoltaic power is modular and may be incrementally installed, without major planning / lead times.

Rural electrification has a major beneficial impact, including:
· increases in agricultural productivity
· increases in small industry development
· increases in long-distance communication
· improvements in education, health and other social services

Such improvements in rural infrastructure reduce the incentive for migration to crowded urban centers.

EXAMPLE: Photovoltaic systems in Kenya, bring electricity to many villages and villagers. PV modules are powering classroom lighting and ventilation as well as long distance education with PV powered radios and televisions. In the Esaigery Area, there is a communal water point, serving primarily Masai tribespeople, livestock and school / health centers. PV modules power the borehole pumps, replacing old diesel power generators.

The village of La Vainilla(east of Ixtapa, Mexico) installed solar electric lighting. The village was chosen as a "prototype community" and is largely representative of many similar communities in Mexico. PV, at less than a third the installed cost of central power, was the power source of choice. Solar lighting is slowly replacing kerosene lanterns and candles.

©S.K.Lowe 1996 to 2008

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