Probably the most feasible type of solar energy for use in developing countries is what is called “passive solar energy,” which is the building of homes and other structures to use the sun’s heat more efficiently, such as with greenhouses, sunspaces and energy-efficient windows. This type of solar energy technology is very cheap and easy to install, and despite its simplicity has the potential to save huge amounts of energy and fuelwood in developing countries. Greenhouses are simple to build and can provide warmth and sunlight for the growing of plants that can help increase the food yields of individual villages in remote places. Energy-efficient windows means that houses stay warmer in the winters, lessening the need for burning more wood as fuel. Even active solar energy, which is the installation of solar panels to generate electricity, has advantages in poorer countries, mainly because it’s cheaper to install them in remote villages than it is in first world cities, and also because much of the developing world lies in tropical or desert regions which receive a great deal of sunlight, thus making their returns bigger and the investment risk smaller. Sustainability in the developing world is definitely a growth industry, and one that has the potential to make a real difference in the energy habits of the world.
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