As the largest off-grid solar power programme in the world, the Bangladesh Solar Home Systems programme offers valuable lessons to other countries seeking to develop and implement sustainable off-grid electrification programmes. Starting in 2003 as a 50,000 household pilot, the programme achieved huge success over subsequent years, providing electricity to approximately 16% of the rural population at its peak, enabling 20 million Bangladeshis to access electricity.
Former Energy 4 Impact trustee Anil Cabraal has co-authored a World Bank report documenting the approach taken in Bangladesh, including the challenges tackled by the programme and the outcomes achieved. Titled Living in the Light- The Bangladesh Solar Home System Story, it serves as a useful reference for other countries wishing to deploy off-grid renewable energy technologies to bring modern electricity services to their people. It offers particularly instructive parallels on the need to forge public-private partnerships, raise consumer awareness of solar technologies, and provide affordable end-user financing, amongst many other key lessons.
The Bangladesh programme was implemented with a rapid and flexible approach that can be replicated in unelectrified African regions striving to create viable renewable energy markets.