Today, there are an estimated seven billion people on our planet. Our best guess is that about 80% of those people have access to electricity. That means more than one billion people still live off-the-grid, and most of those without reliable energy access. Remarkably, from 1990 to 2000, an estimated 1.6 billion people came on-the-grid, an outstanding humanitarian achievement and largely a reflection of urban migration in populous, developing countries like China and India. The aspirations of historically disenfranchised millions, seeking the right to participate in the benefits of modernization, represent the challenge of our generation: How do we bring people out of poverty en masse without destroying our planet?
Solar technology’s future is both On & Off the Grid. This is no-better illustrated than recent satellite images of our world at night.
In dark regions of the satellite image above, remote places usually off-the-grid, solar technology is leapfrogging traditional, sprawling grid infrastructure by providing distributed and modular energy solutions to meet local energy needs. It’s amazing how a solar panel and a battery can change a life. Through off-grid solutions, Yingli Solar panels have already provided an estimated one million people with reliable access to electricity for the first time. Clearly, we’ve still got a long way to go.
In bright regions of the satellite image, those vibrant, industrialized economies founded upon reliable and low-cost electricity, solar technology is replacing inefficient and socially-costly sources of carbon-based energy generation. Not only does the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, key contributors to global warming, but these processes also generate pollutants that are killing an estimated two million people globally each year. Human civilization cannot afford to further delay changes in the way we produce energy.
Yingli Solar is on the front lines of the global energy revolution, and this blog will provide a platform to share some of those stories. We’re working on some exciting initiatives around the world: from the proliferation of solar technology in remote regions to the development of new and more accurate .PAN files (it’s actually waaaayyy cooler that it sounds); and from solar panel reliability testing to preparations for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil! We’ll try not to talk about ourselves too much, though, and hope to elicit participation and feedback from industry partners and those who are interested in the same sorts of challenges.
As the world’s largest solar panel manufacturer, we are passionate and excited about the impact that solar technology is having right now, to say nothing of tomorrow. Please join the conversation (see our comment policy here), and feel free to send us your questions or suggestions for future posts.
Thank you for visiting. We hope to see you On & Off the Grid.
The Editorial Team
(Image courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory)