The cost of solar power has fallen so much that failing to deliver it to those still without electricity risks civil unrest, says Jigar Shah, co-founder of Generate Capital.
Case in point: More than half a billion people now have a mobile phone but no place at home to charge it. “What many see today is a government that doesn’t care enough to prioritize the effort to solve [their energy problem],” says Shah.
Even basic solar lanterns, most of which include mobile charging outlets, could boost household incomes, improve health and improve child education and development. The global kerosene budget alone is enough to provide basic solar energy to every family by 2020, he says.
Off-grid solar companies like d.light, Greenlight Planet, M-KOPA, and Mobisol are now serving more than 85 million people with simple solar electricity, more than grid operators in many areas.
To reach more people requires more political willpower. Says Shah, “The technology is ready but attention and pressure on large utility and telecom companies are necessary to make it happen.”