Given the compelling need, human creativity and inventiveness shall perhaps be most assuredly intensified in the vast areas of the world where there is no electrical grid (that's 1.5 billion people), and won't be for anytime soon. Read this compelling story about how an $80 solar power system changed an African woman's life. Others no doubt will follow, on a mass scale, and ultimately millions more will have an incentive to tweak and experiment and thus accelerate this technology's innovation cycle. And, since I first authored this sub-page, others in fact have followed.
Hybrid developments will then co-develop. Consider this fellow's idea (low-cost libraries for Third Worlders) and then blend it with an $80 solar power system to power a low-cost laptop enabling 3G-streamed free (millions of public domain) or donated books to be read by hut-dwelling African children, thus obviating the need to even travel to the low-cost library. That one change (bringing low-cost, renewable power) can trigger a triple win: Increase literacy, renewable energy, and prosperity (both for Third World users and businesses selling low-cost laptop/solar/3G- "Kindle" packages to them, either directly or though NGOs). And so on. 1.5 billion easily lifted out of "energy poverty" and thus sparing the planet deforestation and pollution (they burn wood and liquid fuels for light and electricity now; all that goes away with solar power). Though a bit rosey in his projections, Tony Seba estimates a huge investment upside for this market sector.
Collected here are related sites, including:
This company, which is developing the Off-Grid, Third World Solar/renewable energy market. Money quote: "By 2014, HPS plans to serve ~ 6,500 villages, save 750,000 tons of CO2, create 7,000 local jobs and save $50M in cash for over 5 million people by replacing kerosene and diesel with its proprietary renewable energy technology."
This organization is doing the same in Kenya.
This Eight19 Ltd. group is trying a potentially very smart solar-economic system to light up Africa. Here's more on it. Here, too. Note that it's not simply a do-gooder, give-away group, but in fact is relying on humans to work for and respect what they have, while at the same time giving even the lowest income off-gridders a chance.