Grameen Shakti (Energy)

Trip Start Jul 26, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Flag of Bangladesh  , Dhaka,
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grameen Shakti - or Grameen Energy is the leading alternative energy company in Bangladesh with large programs in Solar Energy, Biogas and Improved Cook Stoves.  Only 30% of the Bangladesh population has access to the national electricity grid.

I met with Abser Kamal - GS General Manager, toured their assembly facility in Dhaka, and went out into the field where I visited a solar lighting home, a biogas facility, an improved cook stove in a home and a village assembly and repair facility.

GS has installed 180,000 solar home systems, 10,000 microutility solar systems, 4,500 biogras plants, and 16,000 improved cook stoves.  Their installations are currently impacting over 2 million people. Their target for 2012 is 1 million solar home systems, 500,000 biogras plants and 10 million improved cook stoves.  They currently employ over 2,650 employees - mostly engineers.  There are targeting 100,000 green women entrepreneurs -  by 2015.  They have 20 Grameen Technology Centers.

The solar home systems provides energy to light lights, operate TV's, cassettes, audios - operate small fans and amplifiers, run computers and recharge cell phones and run dc motor driven equipment such as drill machines, soldering irons, etc.

The advantages of a solar power system include: user becomes owner of power system, easy and safe to operate and use, no monthly bill (free energy after payment of system), useful life span of more than 20 years, no fuel costs, no load shedding, not easily damaged, can be installed in any part of country, no system noise, environmentally friendly and health hazard free.

The price of complete and installed systems range from a 10 watt system for $162 which includes on 18 Ah battery,  one charge controller, one 5 watt compact flourescent light, 2 LED lights and all other swithches/wiring and installation - to a 130 watt system for $1,070 which includes two 100 Ah batteries,  one 15 amp charge controller, eleven 6 watt flourescent lights, all other switches/wiring and installation.

There are four payment options: (1) 15% down, 36 months to pay, 6% flat service charge, (2) 25% down, 24 months, 4% flat service charge, (3) 15% down, 36 months (with 36 post dated checks) and 5% flat service charge.

There "Micro Utility Systems" are sold to one person who uses the energy for their own home and sells the excess energy to others around them who can not who can not afford to buy a system themselves.

They purchase their solar panels from Kyocera in Japan.  They are paying $3 - $4 per panel - be they 40, 50, 65, 85, 120 or 13 watt.

Their 6 watt flourescent lamp comes from Toshiba in Japan and costs them $1.50.

Grameen Shakti is very big in biogas - something that I learned about earlier in the trip and found quite a great idea for rural dwellers with annimals that produce waste materials that are the raw materials that can be converted into gas for cooking and lighting and fertilizer for crops and to provide nutrients to the fish farms.

The Biogas Plant pictures in this blog are of a plant that is automatically gravity fed by the poultry waste.  Two cages, each holding 500 chickens feed by gravity into the biomass tank located between the two cages.  The owner uses the gas for his needs and sells the excess and the fertilizer to others.  The gas can also be used to feed a generator that then produces electricity.  In this case it is used as backup electricity for when there is a power failure of the normal electrical grid.  As with the solar systems - Grameen offers various loans which can be paid off in one or two years.

Grameen Shakti also has engineered and installs "Improved Cook Stove for Better Health, Environment & Fuel Efficiency."  In rural Bangladesh more energy is used for cooking their any other use.

Click here to see an 8 minute video of Grameen Shakti and its energy products
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