By working with SoLanka Associates and the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement, SELF has helped support the promotion of solar photovoltaics (PV) in rural Sri Lanka. In both projects, SELF utilized locally made “SUNTEC” modules and components, helping support domestic solar home system (SHS) component manufacturing.
SELF assisted in the conception of SoLanka Associates; a service-oriented, non-profit organization devoted to the promotion of solar PV in Sri Lanka. In 1991 SoLanka and SELF organized the country’s first “solar co-op,” the SoLanka Sun Society of Morapatawa Village that managed a revolving credit fund to finance solar home systems for its members. Sun Society members were expected to pay a small down payment for their systems and make monthly payments over the course of eight years for the remaining balance. As the fund grew, other families were able to access the funds to finance their own SHS. Five years into the program, the initial 48 families had repaid enough into the revolving credit fund to allow for an additional 25 families to purchases SHS. Following the success of Morapatawa, SoLanka expanded the solar electrification project to other villages. SoLanka’s founder, Priyantha Wijesooriya, founded the Renewable Energy Service Company Asia (RESCO-Asia) to expand Sri Lanka’s rural electrification work on a commercial basis.
Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement
The Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement is a national development organization with over 3 million members. In partnership with SELF, the two organizations developed a “Solar Seed” program, which introduced solar electricity to over 100 rural Sri Lankan villages. The program, in partnership with Sarvodaya Rural Technical Services (SRTS), installed demonstration systems throughout rural Sri Lanka, in community centers, primary schools, and Buddhist temples. The Solar Seed program also provided training for the installation and maintenance of the SHS to local technicians. SELF then organized and capitalized a pilot revolving credit fund to provide financing to Sarvodaya members interested purchasing systems. Initially, the program served over 300 households in rural Sri Lanka.
In 1994, Dr. A.T. Ariyatatne, founder of Sarvodaya, called for a “million home” solar program to be funded by international donors. The World Bank approved a $24 Million Energy Services Delivery Loan to assist rural Sri Lankans in acquiring solar electricity by providing them with financing. A substantial portion of the loan was targeted for solar PV rural electrification. SELF worked with Sarvodaya and RESCO-Asia to implement the program’s pilot stage, which electrified 2,000 homes with SHS.
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