Solar Power in Rural Areas

Many Americans take the availability of electricity for granted. In rural areas around the world, however, access to electricity is sparse and expensive. The use of solar power in rural areas is a cheaper, cleaner alternative.

One significant benefit of solar power in rural areas is increased availability. Rural areas lack this resource because their countries’ electric grids stop before reaching them.

Worse, extending the electric grid costs a lot of money. For example, in the United States, it would cost $35,000 to $50,000 to extend an electricity grid for even one mile. Relying on solar power will remove this cost burden from electric companies and rural citizens.

Bringing in solar power gives those communities affected more money to spend on necessities. According to Mother Jones, the cost of nonrenewable diesel is “roughly $10 each month- money that could otherwise buy more than 20 pounds of rice.”

Solar energy is also better for health reasons. Indoor air pollution from burning non-renewable energy sources like wood and coal kills more than 4 million people a year in Tanzania alone.

Another possible benefit of introducing solar power is new economic opportunities. Mother Jones discusses how Tanzanian vendors have made a profit selling inexpensive solar-powered items due to the increased demand.

Unfortunately, solar power does not always provide enough energy to maintain electricity for long periods. Reuters explains how the few hours of electricity that small-scale solar energy provides “was not enough to boost savings, help launch new businesses, increase time spent working or studying or otherwise significantly improve people’s lives.” Another detriment to solar power in rural areas is inclement weather limiting the electricity produced by solar energy.

Regardless of these disadvantages, the advantages of solar power in rural areas illustrate that the development of better solar technology is beneficial for areas that otherwise would not be able to access electricity.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr