Friday, April 1, 2011

Problems of Going Solar in Developing Countries

Will going solar play an important role in the survival of developing countries? Will it be a long process worth pursuing? A number of non profit organizations exposed for years are still seriously involved in establishing solar in the third world.
They have shown some positive results, but sadly, these were not satisfactory. How far are developing countries from technology transfer? What is the real score?

Looking around and hearing some discordant note from some sectors, there are real problems that hinder solar technology transfer.

The problems of solar energy transfer are classified into 2 categories, namely:

Internal problems of developing countries (technology recipients).

1. Lack of funds and expert manpower to undertake research and development. This is a single problem related to poverty. To compound the problem, there is also lack of locally trained personnel needed for the project. If this problem is not fixed, techno transfer will not prosper.
2. Lack of interest from government officials since the main beneficiaries are the poor people in the rural areas. They are more interested in high profile projects bringing in more profits to the detriment of the poor.
3. Red tape and corruption at some government level slow down even the simplest solar application being introduced. This is one of the complaints of non profit organizations working in some countries. These organizations are forced to work with small local non government organizations (NGO) to implement their projects.
4. Many developing countries do not have the capabilities and information to evaluate which solar technology to import for their needs. Most often, what they have are literature supplied by the manufacturers.

Problems of developed countries (technology leaders and proponents).

1. Developed countries would rather do the research and development and sell the finished products to the third world making them totally dependent. The product will be more expensive and less will be made available to the people. In some instances these are not suited to the needs of the country.
2. Some developed countries view the third world as just a market which would depend on them for their solar needs. The effort is primarily a money making venture discouraging local proponents to produce some parts of the technology. Proof of this is the many multi-billion dollar corporations going into solar research and development because they see the third world as a big market for their products.
3. Technology transfer initiated in the third world are low level projects which can not meet bigger and more sophisticated demands of the many sectors in the country.
4. Big proponents should work out one plan for techno transfer. In the United States for example, there is a different opinion on how to transfer solar. The US Agency for International Development (USAid) favors local planning, research and development, whereas the Department of Energy (DOE) favors export of finished solar energy.

Options open to developing countries

1. The third world can make representations to bargain for easier access to solar technology from developed countries. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has already suggested this to the western governments.
2. The developing countries can pool their technical and capital resources and undertake the project by themselves. Regional cooperation in solar research and development has been discussed in the United Nations. But because of diversities in the developing nations, the countries may never come together.

Solar power is often referred to as “the technology of mankind”. It should be shared and not monopolized. Profit should never be the only motivation when researching and developing the technology. There should be a room for easing the difficulty of the less fortunate.

We invite you to visit our Informative Solar Article page for more practical tips, simplified application guide and established solar benefits.

Author’s Box
Jacinto Demonteverde, Jr., the owner, is a strong advocate of solar power adoption. He writes practical articles to keep established and prospective solar users well informed. Visit him at: You are welcome to republish or reprint this article free of charge provided the content remains unchanged including the Author’s Box. No permission is needed


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