Solar panels. In the Netherlands there still is a lot of scepsis regarding this sustainable energy technology. The panels are expensive, unpredictable and do not solve a tangible problem. Climate change? Air quality? We know these issues exist, but we do not really see these as being problematic yet.
How different is the situation in Nepal, where the haphazardly constructed grid is largely depended on hydropower (read: the rainy season) or dirty, noisy and above all, expensive diesel. This means that the label sustainability means less than nothing. Energy is first and foremost seen as energy. This does not only mean there is no discussion about exactly how sustainable an energy source is, it also means the business case and the social impact become blatantly obvious to all.
The solar energy company Gham Power has numerous cases that illustrate this. Probably the best example is a prospective client of Gham Power that operates a concrete factory. Despite promises made by the government, they are not connected to the national grid yet. Combined with the limited availability of diesel this results in an operating time of just 45 days a year and large repercussions for both the owner and the employees.
Or look at Ecoprise, a small company that supplies energy solutions for remote rural areas. By providing solar panels with integrated light and better ovens, the quality of life can make enormous leaps and bounds. And the impact does not stop there: thanks to their organizational setup they also provide local jobs in maintenance and assembly to the communities they serve.
Where energy companies in the Netherlands face an endless circle of justification and explanation when they offer solar panels, Nepali entrepreneurs seem to combine people, planet and profit without effort into opportunities for themselves and others.