How Solar Lanterns Are Giving Power to the People
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
Mandal, whose home sits illegally on public land at the edge of a tiger reserve, is just a tiny cog in a surging new economic machine, one that involves hundreds of companies working aggressively to sell small solar-powered units to off-grid customers in developing nations to help fill their growing energy needs. Roughly 1.1 billion people in the world live without access to electricity, and close to a quarter of them are in India, where people like Mandal have been forced to rely on noxious kerosene and bulky, acid-leaking batteries.
Mandal’s solar unit, which powers two LED lights and a fan, is energized by a 40-watt solar panel. Sun beats down on the panel, charging a small, orange power station for roughly ten hours at a time. Mandal leases the kit from SimpaNetworks. A for-profit company with a name derived from the notion of “simple payments,” Simpa offers subscription plans structured to fit the budgets of low-income consumers. Even so, the equivalent of roughly 35 cents a day is a massive expenditure for Mandal, who supports his family on a razor-thin budget of less than two dollars a day. Food costs money, as do schoolbooks, medicine, and tea.
A billion people have no access to electricity.
As solar gets cheaper they may leapfrog the power grid entirely.