News / Asia

Solar Products Becoming More Affordable for Developing World

An advertisement shows solar batteries that are compatible with Apple products, like the iPhone and iPad, at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair,  October 13, 2011.
An advertisement shows solar batteries that are compatible with Apple products, like the iPhone and iPad, at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair, October 13, 2011.

It is the cleanest, most abundant energy source. But solar power faces the challenge of affordability and efficiency, especially if such systems are to be widely installed in the developing world.

Progress is being made. Scores of Chinese companies are touting their latest solar electronic components and products at an international trade fair in Hong Kong.


Most of the products on display here at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair are practically unusable for the 1.6 billion people, a quarter of the world's population, living without electricity.

In sunny Africa and South Asia, which have the lowest electrification rates, cheaper and more efficient solar cells are in demand.

And innovation is occurring, says Zhong Xiao Jun, whose company in Guangzhou, China makes solar panels, chargers and lighting systems.

"To improve competitiveness of our products, we are working on increasing battery performance," he says. "We are using some printed circuit board to cut energy losses. Secondly, we are increasing the electrical conversion efficiency of solar panels. This is possible because we are utilizing special new materials and techniques for our panel production line."

One of the challenges of solar power, of course,  is what do you do when the sun is not shining?

There are innovative solutions, such as this one: a hybrid system that relies not only on solar, but also wind power, for street lamps. It is already operational in Shenzhen, China and Germany.

In North America and Europe, more expensive crystalline silicon technology is preferred for high power, limited space installations.

In the developing world, Topray Solar's Frank Lin says cheaper thin film technology is favored.

"That means they can pay for the same power with less money. Of course, the disadvantage will be a bigger size. But bigger size is not an issue for the African, for the developing countries because they have that kind of space. And usually what they use are smaller applications," says Lin.

More affordable products for daily use in places off the grid are coming to market. Solar flashlights on display here are being sold on a wholesale basis for as little as 35 cents each.

A detachable LED shines up to 20 hours when fully charged and retails for under $100.

Solar power, globally, is reaching new heights every year. Industry officials say installations reached a record high of more than 18 gigawatts last year.

But the top market remains Europe. It is estimated only one percent of the world's solar panels are in the developing world.

You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid