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Following last year's ground-breaking Powering Opportunity research and confirming the positive socioeconomic impact of solar home systems over a longer period of time, Powering Opportunity in East Africa. Read the Report Explore the Impact.

International collaboration

Read: Off-grid solar is a power tool for change. In total, sales of , off-grid solar appliances were reported from July to December , with TVs , and fans , being the most widely sold appliances according to the data collected.

The report also highlights the life-changing impact of off-grid solar. Close to 5 million people now have access to enough energy each day to power a range of appliances. The impact figures are based on the sales numbers of off-grid solar lighting products only solar lanterns, multi-light systems and solar home systems. Because many Third World citizens have never had the chance to go on the grid, current estimates are that 1. The concept of a sustainable off-grid community must take into consideration the basic needs of all who live in the community.

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Off-grid energy access

To become truly self-sufficient , the community would need to provide all of its own electrical power , food, shelter and water. Using renewable energy , an on-site water source, sustainable agriculture and vertical farming techniques is paramount in taking a community off the grid.

Another BUILD

A recent concept design by Eric Wichman shows a multi-family community, which combines all of these technologies into one self-sufficient neighborhood. To grow the community you simply add neighborhoods using the same model as the first.

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A self-sustained community reduces its impact on the environment by controlling its waste and carbon footprint. The State of California is encouraging solar and wind power generation that is connected to the electrical grid to avoid the use of toxic lead acid batteries for night time storage.


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However, some systems may mitigate this difference by using old car batteries that can no longer supply enough current to start a car. It is often done to residential buildings only occasionally occupied, such as vacation cabins, to avoid high initial costs of traditional utility connections. Other persons choose to live in houses where the cost of outside utilities is prohibitive, or such a distance away as to be impractical.

In his book How to live off-grid Nick Rosen lists seven reasons for going off-grid.

Off Grid and Backup | Schneider Electric

The top two are saving money, and reducing the carbon footprint. Others include survivalists , preparing for the collapse of the oil economy and bringing life back to the countryside. Canada has about aboriginal and northern off-grid communities, defined as "a community that is neither connected to the North American electrical grid nor to the piped natural gas network; it is permanent or long-term 5 years or more , and the settlements have at least 10 permanent buildings.

Energy Insight

In situations where grid parity has been reached, it becomes cheaper to generate one's own electricity rather than purchasing it from the grid. This depends on equipment costs, the availability of renewable energy sources wind , sun , and the cost of a grid connection. For example, in certain remote areas a grid connection would be prohibitively expensive, resulting in grid parity being reached immediately.

Off-Grid Solutions

The photovoltaic off-grid market has been researched by international institutes, universities and market research companies. The cumulative installed PV capacity is estimated in between 1 and 2 GW [16] depending on the source. The market research company Infinergia has gone further by mapping national cumulative installed off-grid PV capacity on countries worldwide. In Africa , small and inexpensive pico solar electric lights and solar home systems are becoming readily available.


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Inexpensive solar panels, lithium ion batteries and high-efficiency LED lights make the systems affordable. Reliable centralized electricity systems have provided supply constancy which has bolstered societies and their economies.