—Tonny Okello Japser, a resident of Olil village in Kole district, Uganda. Japser opened a salon in 2010 to augment his income from farming, but quickly realized it was costly to operate his new business using a petroleum-powered generator. In 2013, he invested in a solar panel instead. Now, customers flock to his salon for haircuts and also tap into his solar energy to charge their cellphones. His two jobs, amplified by savings from going solar, allow him to comfortably support his family. VIA ALLAFRICA.COM (Photo: Lominda Afedraru)

— Senegalese-American hip hop artist Akon, whose Akon Lighting Africa initiative has provided solar street lamps, micro-generators, charging stations, and home kits to rural villages in 14 African countries. In Guinea Conakry, the company is employing 5,000 people to install solar systems. ALA plans to expand to all African countries by 2020. VIA AWAKEN and WALL STREET JOURNAL (Photo: DAGENCY)

Thailand has been shifting away from natural gas as reserves are depleted. By December 2015, Thailand is expected to have more solar power capacity than all of Southeast Asia combined. Most will be from solar farms, but experts say distributed solar over the next five years could supply a quarter of a million households. The cost of rooftop solar has dropped 90% since 2010. VIA REUTERS and SIAM REAL ESTATE (PHOTO: 53338296 via Flickr/cc)

— Lungela Vongu, a resident of Cookhouse in South Africa, on the large wind project there that provides electricity to local villages. With wind energy from new projects roughly half the cost of new coal, low cost is driving rapid renewables expansion in the country. In fact, a coal company is soon to break ground on a $300m wind energy project in the Eastern Cape. “On the continent, there really is the opportunity to leapfrog the old centralised large scale fossil fuel power and big grid paradigm,” says Evan Rice with Greencape, a not-for-profit development agency in Cape Town. “With technology and project prices continuing to drop, and rapid breakthroughs in battery and other storage technologies, I have no doubt that renewables will address all of our power needs in time. This will happen sooner than people think.” VIA THE GUARDIAN (Photo: Jeffrey Barbee)

— EAS Sarma, former secretary of India’s Ministry of Power, explaining why renewable energy, not coal, is the right route for India. Sarma notes that most of the population in India needing electricity access lives in rural areas beyond reach of the grid and that in urban areas new coal capacity benefits mostly existing consumers rather than those without electricity — points he says undermine claims by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot that Australian coal would address energy poverty in India. “Australian coal, like any other coal, is not good for Indian people’s health and it will not deliver electricity to those who are currently living in energy poverty,” Sarma says. “India’s focus must be on encouraging locally-generated and indigenous renewable energy systems.” VIA THE GUARDIAN. (PHOTO: Kiran Jonnalagadda via Flickr/cc)

— A teacher at the San Pablo school, located in northern Nicaragua about 50 minutes from the town of La Murra. The San Pablo school and others in Nicaragua are installing off-grid solar units to power lighting, part of a collaborative effort by a number of organizations, including buildOn, SolarCity’s GivePower Foundation, Trees, Water & People, Luciérnaga, and Proleña. Electric lighting enables nighttime adult education classes, afternoon sessions for students on cloudy days during rainy season, maintaining charged cell phones for emergency calls, and teacher lesson planning during off hours. VIA LUCIÉRNAGA

With solar costs now in the $0.04 to $0.05-per kilowatt-hour range, cheaper than building a fossil fuel plant, analysts expect annual solar installations globally to triple over the next five years, with particular opportunity in Africa, South America and the Middle East. The 200 megawatt Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar project in Dubai, scheduled for completion in early 2017, will power 30,000 homes in the UAE at $5.84 cents per kilowatt-hour. It’s “a new milestone in solar PV’s evolution as a mainstream energy resource,” says Ahmed S Nada, vice president and region executive for the Middle East at First Solar. VIA USA TODAY / MOTLEY FOOL and SEENEWS

— Marc André Chrysostom, Haitian Ministry of Public Works, on the new town-sized solar microgrid which provides power to 430 homes and businesses in downtown Les Anglais in the South of Haiti. Electricity from the micogrid is cheaper per kilowatt-hour than candles or kerosene and also less expensive than diesel generator alternatives for local businesses, reports project developer Earthspark International. The microgrid incorporates significant battery storage, allowing for 24/7 electricity access and “allowing businesses to stay open longer and residents to read or study in the evenings by electric lighting.” VIA DEVEX and EARTHSPARK

— Tahaguas Andemariam, consultant engineer and professor at the University of Adama, on the recent completion of the Adama II wind farm in Ethiopia, which generates enough power for 10 million efficient light bulbs. “Within 24 months we have constructed this big wind farm of 153 megawatts — hydro would have taken much longer,” Andemariam said. Adama II is the third large wind farm in Ethiopia. Its construction employed 900 Ethiopians. Project engineer Solomon Yismaw noted the country’s abundant hydro sources but that wind power was essential given dry seasons and droughts. Ethiopia needs to increase electricity production by 20 to 25% per year to meet rising demand and has set a target of cutting its carbon emissions by two-thirds within the next 15 years. VIA REVE and ALLAFRICA

— SunEdison Asia-Pacific president Pashupathy Gopalan, commenting on the company’s recent completion of the 50-megawatt Dammakhedi solar farm in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. SunEdison reports that the project was completed two months ahead of schedule and created more than 1,000 jobs during construction. VIA ENERGY MATTERS (Photo: Christopher Kray via Flickr/cc)

— Jackline Naiputa, with the Osopuko-Edonyinap group, a Massai women’s group in Kenya supplied by Green Energy Africa with solar panels, lights and batteries that the group in turn transports and sells to residents in remote areas. Naiputa explains that with solar lamps around her homestead, her son no longer has to spend cold nights in the cattle enclosure to guard their herd of goats from predators. “The nearest market where one can charge a cell phone or buy kerosene is 15 kilometers away, and it is only held one day a week,” Naiputa said, noting that she used to have to spend over 100 Kenyan shillings a week charging two cell phones. “For us, the impact of solar technology is unparalleled.” VIA THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION and VOICES OF AFRICA (Photo: TRF/Leopold Obi)

PRI reports from Zanzibar on experiences of residents like Kanoa Sharif Haji (weaving at night under an LED light) who are getting electricity through solar rooftop panels installed by local women trained by the NGO Barefoot College. The solar systems cost less than half what residents pay for kerosene lamps, which create indoor smoke, and can be installed in a half hour.  600 households on the island have received panels so far, and 24 more local women will be trained to install and maintain 50 systems each a year. Mize Juma Othman, a local resident who trained to become a solar installer, says her salary for the work is $60 a month. VIA PRI (Photo: Sam Eaton)

Nosim Noah, a resident of Arusha, Tanzania, explaining how a light above her daughter’s bed powered by a home solar system has helped two-year-old Emilia, who is afraid of the dark, get to sleep. After years of waiting for power from the grid that never arrived, Noah explains how a solar system now powers her home at far less cost each month than what she used to have to pay for kerosene. VIA CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

— Bakare Kone, a resident of Zantiebougou in rural Mali, discussing differences since solar brought power to his village. “The first lights we had were the street lights and the children would study under them,” Kone says. According to author Joe Ware, “improvements in healthcare have been particularly acute with medicines requiring refrigeration now able to be stocked in the village…. Injections no longer need to be administered by flashlight.” VIA THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION (Photo: CHRISTIAN AID/Lilly Peel)