The installation of photovoltaic cells on the roofs of Ethiopian houses for electricity production gives families access to lighting and improves the livelihoods of people living in the rural regions of Ethiopia. The use of solar lighting instead of kerosene lamps has positive effects on people’s health and leads to reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
The project’s objective is to supply a high number of villages in Ethiopia with Solar Home Systems to produce electricity for lighting at home. Approximately 99 percent of the population in the rural areas of Ethiopia does not have access to electricity and therefore experiences numerous limitations at nighttime.
Once the sun sets usually between 6 and 7 o’clock, the only source of light in most parts of rural Ethiopia is a dim kerosene lamp producing health-hazardous smoke. Due to the lack of light, social time, housework and further any educational activities for the children are restricted in the evening. By substituting the poor kerosene lamps with strong solar powered LED lights, environmental, social and economical benefits can be achieved.
Education and training of local people is a key part of activities of the Solar Energy Foundation. To have well-trained personnel available who is able to professionally install and maintain the Solar Home Systems in Ethiopia, the “International Solar Energy School” has been founded. After their graduation, five “Technicians” found a new Solar Center in a village and are responsible for the provision of its inhabitants with Solar Home Systems annually. The first Solar Technicians have graduated in March 2008, since then 10 Solar Centers have been opened and more than 60 solar technicians have been trained. Through this approach, many villages are reached and the know-how is spread around the country.
There are four different kinds of solar products offered differing in their power output and application. The solar lanterns and Solar Home Systems have been adapted and tested to fit the lives in rural Ethiopia. To assure that every individual household finds a suitable lighting model for its needs and its financial situation, the small portable solar lanterns are sold directly by cash, where as the Solar Home Systems and other larger systems are sold by cash or credit and may be paid back over a specified period of time. The respective price takes into account the income level and ability to pay of the rural communities.