Resourceful people in developing countries, living in places lacking the larger infrastructure, adapt renewable energy in surprisingly ingenious ways.

As small-scale renewable energy becomes cheaper, more reliable and more efficient, it is providing the first drops of modern power to people who live far from slow-growing electricity grids and fuel pipelines in developing countries. Although dwarfed by the big renewable energy projects that many industrialized countries are embracing to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, these tiny systems are playing an epic, transformative role.

In addition to solar power, small-scale renewable energy has also worked for extracting biogas from cow manure and hydroelectric dams for small rivers.

However, John Maina of Sustainable Community Development Services points out that “the big problem for us is there is no business model yet…Finally, these products exist, people are asking for them and are willing to pay.  But we can’t get supply.”

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