Alumna Wins Fulbright for Solar Energy Project in Bangladesh

Beaver alumna Holly Battelle ’04 is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to research and pilot a solar energy project in Bangladesh. Holly, who majored in economics at Colby College, will leave her current research position at the Congressional Budget Office to spend 11 months in Dhaka, starting in January 2011. Holly shared her Fulbright plans in a recent email to Beaver’s alumni relations department:

“The first two months I am in Dhaka I will be learning Bengali at a language school. The remainder of my time in Bangladesh will be devoted to my research grant. My host organization is Grameen Shakti, a subsidiary of Grameen bank, the pioneer organization of microfinance. Grameen Shakti (shakti means “energy” in Bengali) makes small loans to rural villagers and small business primarily for solar panels. Nearly all rural villages in Bangladesh are not connected to grid electricity, so their only source of light is from candles and kerosene lanterns. The organization also makes loans for improved cooking stoves (many women and children are exposed to many indoor toxins released from their conventional indoor stoves) and biogas.”

“For my project, I proposed to investigate whether it would be feasible to make small loans for solar panels in the city of Dhaka. Although Dhaka has grid electricity, there are frequent power outages (nearly everyday part of the city experiences a lack of power outage). Additionally, Bangladesh has one of the fastest growing populations with many people migrating to the city, which adds to the grid’s problems. I hope my project will culminate with me starting a pilot program in Dhaka where I will be making the loans and monitoring the families or small businesses.”

Holly’s grant proposal also cites the urgent need for flood- and drought-prone nations such as Bangladesh to mitigate the impact of climate change by shifting to renewable sources of power.

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