Rural solar scheme

Oil giant Shell is to launch a large scale commercial solar electrification project which will bring power to 50,000 homes in South Africa. The scheme is the first of its kind and will be a purely commercial venture financed by customer payments.

Shell and its joint venture partner, South African utility Eskom, plan to install 6000 home systems within six months and 50,000 within three years. The first ten units were due to be inaugurated in late February by President Nelson Mandela.

Each household will be furnished with a $500 solar panel and battery. Consumers will pay around $10 per month for the service by buying a magnetic card at local outlets; a household currently spends this much on candles, according to Shell.