Small Scale Renewable Energy Helps the Environment – And the Poor

Over the Christmas break, the New York Times published an insightful article about how small scale renewable energy can improve the lives of people who dwell in places such as Africa where it’s common not to be reached by the grid.

“Although dwarfed by the big renewable energy projects that many industrialized countries are embracing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, these tiny systems are playing an epic, transformative role”, wrote the author of the article, Elisabeth Rosenthal.

The article highlights the incredible value that renewable energy can add to people’s lives (besides the environmental benefits, of course). The African family the journalist focused on was able to save money after installing an $80 solar panel because it no longer needed to buy kerosene and batteries ($15 per month) plus another $20 spent on travel to buy the goods. Besides, the kids got better grades at school because they now have light for


Article by Antonio Pasolini, a Brazilian writer and video art curator based in London, UK. He holds a BA in journalism and an MA in film and television.

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One comment on “Small Scale Renewable Energy Helps the Environment – And the Poor


This is an entrepreneurial ‘virus’ which was started in Bangladesh by a native son who did well in the U.S. In essence what he did was to empower women to start micro cell phone companies in Bangladesh villages that had neither electricity nor phone service. Solar panels recharged the phones and people would rent them.

It was amazingly successful and soon hundreds of women had expanding cell phone companies and larger arrays of solar panels; and branched out into selling cell phones.

So it is not so much about alt. energy; but releasing the entrepreneurial zeal of women and leapfrogging both the advent of electricity and land lines.

—I read the article quickly, and could be wrong; and am sorry I don’t remember the name of the person who financed and organized the first rural ‘cell’ phone companies in Bang.

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