Grameen Shakti celebrates 1m solar systems

Nobel Laureate Prof Muhammad Yunus and his team at the Grameen Shakti hosted a unique celebration in Dhaka on Wednesday evening to mark the setting of a milestone by installing one-million solar systems on 30 November last.It is a world record in solar home systems which is not only unleashing the creative potentials of rural people in Bangladesh but also helping fight global warming by reducing the use of fossil fuels that earlier used to light the villages, the Nobel laureate told a select audience with pride amid spontaneous applause.
It was a rare spectacle of development partners, leading lawyers, economists, environmentalists, academics and members of the intelligentsia who were invited to the function at the Radisson Hotel relishing a world class positive development at a time when negative, confrontational politics coupled with stagnation in investment and production has laden the air all around with pessimism.
Amid showers of praise Bilkis Begum, who installed a solar home system at her home in Gazipur, and a shopkeeper of Narshingdi described how the installation of solar systems changed their life helping increase income and improve relationships with neighbours.
Set up in 1996 by Prof. Yunus, to take light to villages using renewable energy technologies, Grameen Shakti has won a number of awards at home and abroad. So far GS has also installed 595,516 improved cooking stoves and 24,206 biogas plants.
Every solar home system unit helps cut 0.232 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The solar home systems installed so far have brought a CDM (clean development mechanism) benefit of $2.32 million a year for Bangladesh.
Ellen Goldstein, country director of the World Bank, said termed the feat impressive. The programme was initiated with a target of only only 50,000 solar home systems in five years. Now GS and other partners are installing 60,000 systems a month month, she said.
This achievement sounds something in the science fiction and is a perfect example of a well-structured public-private partnership under a well-managed financing system.” The solar home systems are 100 percent Bangladeshi and operated by the local people, she said adding The WB will support Bangladesh to move to a higher level like mini-grid and solar irrigation.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, a former adviser of caretaker government, Prof. Ainun Nishat, vice chancellor of BRAC University, Rezwan Khan, vice chancellor of United International University in Bangladesh spoke on different aspects of the glorious achievement of Grameen Shakti that has created hope in the midst of hopelessness.
Prof. Yunus, chairman of Grameen Shakti, shared with the audience the tough beginning of the project 16 years back when solar panel price was high and kerosene price was low. Finally, we have made it, he said. GS would install the next million solar systems by 2015. Grameen Shakti is the largest single off-grid system in the world, he declared amid cheers.
Mahmud Malik, chief executive officer of Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL), thanked the development partners and the government for helping the country achieve its solar home system target before the deadline.
Abser Kamal, acting managing director of Grameen Shakti, said anyone can buy a solar home system by paying a monthly installment for three years. It costs the same like one kerosene lamp for the same period. Grameen Shakti is providing microcredits to help people buy solar home systems with a three-year monthly payment system.

Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus

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