One million Bangladeshi homes on solar power, fastest expansion of solar use
A woman stands in the doorway of her mud house next to a solar system panel near Patulia village in the Gazipur district north of capital Dhaka in this May 5, 2007 photo. Energy-starved rural Bangladeshis are getting some relief as solar power systems increasingly light up remote areas. REUTERS

Bangladeshi households using solar power for producing their own electricity has crossed the one million mark up from 5,000 households in 2002.

It is the fastest expansion of solar industry in the world, Nazmul Haq of the Infrastructure Development Company (IDCOL) told Reuters.

We had set a goal of powering one million households with solar energy by 2013, but achieved the goal 18 months ahead of schedule,” Haq said. “Over 5 million Bangladeshis now have to home electricity because of solar power”.

With no access to electricity, some 60 percent of Bangladesh's 150 million rely on costly kerosene lamps for lighting.

The state-owned power plants generate only 4,700 megawatts of electricity a day against the demand of 6,000 megawatts.

A World Bank report last month said solar panels had changed the face of the remote, rural areas of Bangladesh, by providing cheap, reliable electricity. It added: There exists a market potential for solar home systems in many rural areas if micro-credit
schemes are made available.

Bangladesh has set a new target to cross 2.5 million solar-powered households by 2014.