Solar power and a heat wave

By Suzanne L’Amoureux

Suzanne is an MBA and MPP alum from the Smith Business School. She is the assistant director of the Office of Career Services. She spent a week in Bangladesh with the World Bank exploring the possibility of expanding rural electrification through solar energy mini-grids.

There is probably no better way to understand the impact of electricity than during the worst heat wave in Bangladesh in 50 years. Our team of eight (five Master of Finance and 3 MBAs) arrived in Dhaka on Saturday and visited the village of Kapasia to learn about the effects and possibilities of solar power in bringing electricity to villages. The COO of Solaric, the company bringing this power to the villages, Enayetul Haque, led the way and introduced us to the nanogrid.  The team was in Bangladesh on a consulting project for the World Bank, and this was our first visit.  This week in Dhaka temperatures would reach above 100 every day – almost unbearable heat for most people, but Kapasia had new solar power.  For less than $5 per month, villagers could get solar power from the village nanogrid, giving them electric light, a fan, and even a television.

The team in Kapasia.

The team in Kapasia.

The village had small businesses as well, including several poultry farms. The farmer was able to lower his monthly power costs from $25 to $10, in addition to removing his dependence on kerosene power and changing to a source of renewable energy.

The project in Bangladesh provides the opportunity for an entrepreneur in each village to take on the nanogrid for that village, which, in turn, provides an income opportunity.  Md. Ibrahim, Kapasia’s entrepreneur, welcomed us into his home to experience the solar home system. Back at the Smith School, we are all accustomed to air conditioning and television, but here, in a tiny village outside Dhaka, Bangladesh, we could truly experience the power of power, where a household fan made all the difference in quality of life, and television could bring the world to Kapasia.

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