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Why solar is the way forward for S-E Asia

THE usual model of development for emerging economies is to rely on fossil fuels to meet rising power demand and later to switch to cleaner sources of energy. But just as antennae have enabled countries to enjoy the benefits of mobile telephony without the need for extensive telecommunications infrastructure, so advances in solar technology have the potential to power communities without the need for costly new power plants nearby.

Growing demand for energy traditionally leads to more power plants being built, usually to burn coal and natural gas. This provides much-needed electricity, but it creates the problem of increased carbon dioxide emissions, which will have a tremendous impact on the environment in the future.

With solar power approaching so-called “grid parity” in many countries, regions such as South-east Asia, with plentiful sunshine and remote communities, would do well to take advantage of this abundant and emissions-free energy source.

Routing electricity to remote towns and villages from power plants can be very costly, and communities typically have to wait years for the power to start flowing. These communities often rely heavily on diesel generators to meet their power needs. Small solar farms solve this challenge by bringing the power source closer to home, minimising or completely replacing the use of generators that run on expensive diesel fuel. This would bring long-term economic benefits to those communities through an abundant source of energy that costs absolutely nothing.

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