By G. Castaneda

Solar panel charities bringing electricity to people in poverty

The UN states that there are over 1.4 billion people worldwide that lack access to electricity, with 95 percent of them living in Sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia. With this in mind, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is calling for a concerted effort by governments, businesses and civic society to achieve universal access to modern energy services by 2030.

Access to energy is important for the social and economic development of countries so the UN needs all the help it can get in order to achieve their 2030 vision. One way to provide these people with access to energy is through renewable energy technologies especially solar energy technologies.

Solar panels and solar powered devices are very useful in off-grid regions because the advancements in the field has produced devices that are rugged and affordable. Thankfully, there are non-government organizations that are helping the UN in their goal for universal access to energy by bringing solar technology to off-grid communities.

SolarAid in Africa

SolarAid is the international development charity established by Solarcentury in 2006. SolarAid is working on their goal to replace kerosene lamps with affordable solar lamps in Africa by 2020. Solarcentury claims that SolarAid has been successful enough in its mission to be called the largest seller of solar lights in Africa.

UK-based Solarcentury offers solar services to homes and businesses and they allocate five percent of their profit to their SolarAid charity. SolarAid recently reported that they have been able to sell half a million solar lights through their SunnyMoney subsidiary. SolarAid claims that half a million solar lights means that their lights are reaching over 3 million rural Africans.

A Liter of Light in the Philippines

A Liter of Light is a project of Philippines-based My Shelter Foundation that is working to illuminate hundreds of thousands of homes with makeshift solar lamps. These simple lamps are made with soda bottles that are filled with water and bleach which helps keep the water clear. These lamps provide the same light as a 55 watt light bulb in homes thereby allowing the beneficiary household to save from their electric bill. A Liter of Light is also working on a way to add a solar system that will power LED lights so the households will still have light at night.

EMACE in Sri Lanka

EMACE Sri Lanka is providing solar powered lamps to fishermen in the country. The idea is for the farmers to replace their kerosene oil lamps with the solar lamp when fishing at night because the kerosene lamps contaminate the water. The solar lamps can also be used for shrimp traps which help the fishermen attract and catch more shrimps.

We Care Solar

We Care Solar distributes “Solar Suitcases” around the world. The foundation was founded by Dr. Laura Stachel who witnessed firsthand how doctors turned to makeshift lighting to perform an emergency cesarean section. This experience led her to develop a solar powered medical kit that contains LED lights, a fetal Doppler and a cell phone charging unit. The kits are part of a broader mission to improve maternal health care and lower mortality rates in developing countries.

These charities exemplify the different ways that solar technology can help improve the lives of people in developing countries. The developments in the field of solar energy promises a future where our planet can get a greater share of its energy from a more sustainable source of energy. Whether solar is employed in the plains of Africa or in the suburbs of Australia, we all stand to benefit from this clean energy source.

photo credit: Konrad Glogowski via Flickr

G. Castaneda is a freelance writer and solar power enthusiast. When he’s not enjoying the outdoors on his bike or hiking up mountains, he’s updating the world on everything solar at Solar Power Today.