October 10, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] Shell Solar reaches a milestone in its efforts to provide rural communities with access to energy by bringing solar electricity to 20,000 homes and small businesses in Sri Lanka. Shell Solar said strong demand for solar systems is likely to continue in Sri Lanka where only 59 percent of households are connected to the electrical grid and thousands of rural residents rely on batteries and kerosene. Shell Solar Lanka plans to expand its product range next year to offer existing customers additional photovoltaic panels so that they can generate more electricity. Shell Solar Lanka is also contributing economically to the communities in which it is operating. Since it was established in 1999, the business has expanded to 18 branches and created 450 jobs. Essential to its success has been a grant from the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility that reduces the average cost of each solar system to US$500 and tie-ups with local banks that offer credit to customers. Under these credit schemes the customer pays an initial deposit of approximately US$100 and US$10 a month over five years.