Blog from Jane Marsh: Bringing Low-Cost Solar to Rural Communities

Many people believe that solar power is the future of energy production. However, implementing it is not always as straightforward as it may seem at first. More specifically, if people live in rural areas and can only afford low-cost solar installations, they typically have fewer overall options to consider. However, that’s starting to change, thanks to numerous targeted efforts.

The Biden Administration Aims to Reduce Solar-Related Boundaries

In the United States, President Joe Biden and his administration recently announced two plans aimed at minimizing some of the barriers that can stop people from taking advantage of solar power. The first involves subsidizing energy costs for low-income residents by connecting them with developers working on community solar projects. The Biden Administration believes this initiative could result in an additional 134 gigawatts of solar power for the nation.

Additionally, representatives from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) indicated it would assist rural housing authorities to increase energy efficiency and use the associated savings to improve HUD rental units.

It’s too early to say how much of an impact these efforts may have on making solar power more affordable. However, the initiatives sound promising and could have a long-term positive effect on making homes greener. The average American household pays $1,430 per year in electricity bills. That amount makes it easy to see why many would be eager to give solar a try, especially if they believed it would save them money over the long term.

Solar Power in Rural India Helps People Stay Healthy

Community improvements often result in domino effects. For example, when a rural area gets better mobile connectivity, emergency services become more effective in responding to disasters, and farmers and labor workers can stay increasingly productive.

A situation in India provides a useful illustration of how solar installations can pay off for people in unexpected ways. The residents of a rural village called Aharauli typically depend on cow dung and firewood for cooking and heating. However, those materials are significant air pollutants that can cause chronic health problems.

An initiative there has furthered a transformation whereby families use solar power for induction heating. The first round of financing came from community fundraising and a local bank loan. Continued work on the transition to solar meant that several of the homes in the village now have solar power to use for cooking and heating. Some of the beneficiaries specifically comment how they can breathe easier and have noticed other meaningful improvements.

When people in power have opportunities to help people in rural areas take advantage of solar energy, they must remember that the perks are often far-reaching for everyone involved. Thus, the affected communities could reap the rewards for the foreseeable future.

Solar Energy Improves Lives in War-Torn Yemen

A World Bank effort occurring from 2018 to 2022 called the Yemen Emergency Electricity Access Project (YEEAP) sought to bring solar power to those worst affected by the Yemen conflict, including many women and children. The war there meant that many areas had no power at all, and the electricity in others was highly unreliable.

Before the project began, the families who experimented with solar power often had negative results because they could only afford to work with suppliers who used low-quality equipment. However, this effort brought changes by utilizing microfinance institutions and providing partial subsidies to providers that made high-quality solar energy available to those who needed it.

This was a multifaceted effort that also enabled critical facilities, such as schools and hospitals, to get solar power. Additionally, more than 91,000 families in rural and peri-urban areas benefited from the results and received solar energy equipment.

Installing affordable solar energy in rural areas is not easy, and it can take many years to see the payoffs. However, as this example proves, solar power can be life-changing for helping people break free from their grid dependence

Affordable Solar Power in Rural Areas Requires a Creative Approach

There’s no universally best way to bring solar energy to the rural areas that need it. However, taking an individualized approach based on things like the most pressing issues in the community and the resources available there can help get the best results for everyone involved.

About the author: Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

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