In 1996 SELF launched a 100-Household Solar Home System Project in the West Java region of Indonesia under the auspices of a State Environmental Initiative grant program sponsored by the Council of State Governments and the US-Asia Environmental Partnership.
The archipelago of Indonesia comprises over 13,000 islands. At the Time, only 20,960 of the more than 60,000 rural villages were connected to a public electricity grid, which left roughly 70 percent of rural Indonesian households to rely upon kerosene, dry cell batteries, and candles for lighting. The national utility company, PLN, aims to connect an additional 11,600 villages through a grid extension. At its current pace, the projected date of completion for the grid extension isn’t until 2036. Even under this ambitious grid extension program, over half of all Indonesian villages could remain without power. In order to accelerate rural electrification, in 1996, the government began to support solar electrification projects and recommended a “50MWp Photovoltaic Rural Electrification Project,” that installed one million SHS over the course of the following ten years. As a part of this objective, SELF worked with a private local company, PT Sudimara Energi Surya that had extensive experience in solar services— ranging from sales and marketing of SHS, to installation.
SELF’s portion of the rural electrification initiative was carried out in Cibeber, a sub-district of West Java comprised of 8 villages which encompass a portion of the Halimun Game Reserve. Recipients of the 100 SHS purchased their homes through a revolving credit program that assisted to maintain existing SHS and purchase supplemental SHS for the Cieber district as participating members of the community paid their monthly installments. Initially, Sudimara was the only company in Indonesia selling SHS on credit— with collaboration from SELF, this project helped to further demonstrate and showcase a successful local grassroots model.
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Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 25 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rain forest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.
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