Solar Energy

Renewable energy for all

A huge amount of solar energy falls on the earth every day, and if we can convert it to electricity, we can use the energy in many ways other than just heat and lighting during the day. Because sunshine is not steady (during the night, or during the day when clouds pass), by using photovoltaic solar panels to generate the electricity and to store it in batteries, it is available to be used in off grid areas, where the first use is usually for lighting, followed by recharging mobile phones. With the advent of highly efficient lighting systems, such as white light emitting diodes (LEDs), it has been possible to make solar systems for lighting much smaller – and cheaper.  Improved batteries allow for extended life of the batteries, as well as more energy storage.  More advanced uses of the solar energy to operate refrigerators, motors, pumps etc, still cost too much for many remote communities to maintain, but as communities become more experienced with solar energy and the local economies grow, more becomes possible.  In some areas of Zimbabwe, communities in dry areas are using solar water pumps to be able to grow vegetables, and are able to sell some of these vegetables.

Ethiopia: clean light for the rural poor of Africa

Only a small percentage of Ethiopia’s rural population have access to electricity. Most rely on kerosene lamps, which are expensive, extremely flammable and provide poor lighting. The project aims to provide 3,000 households with access to solar lighting and start 30 cooperative societies. The solar lights will replace kerosene burning lamps with a clean, renewable source of energy, leading to far-reaching health, social, environmental and economic benefits. The pilot will also undertake a carbon feasibility study to help determine the relevance of carbon credits to a self-sustaining social enterprise model. (read more)

India: enhanced energy and food security building resilience to climate change

In India up to 40 percent of the population has no access to electricity. In particular, rural communities are reliant on inefficient energy sources – wood and cow dung for cooking, diesel and kerosene for lighting, and diesel for day-to-day agricultural applications, including water pumps and irrigation systems. This project aims to reduce the energy burden of approximately 2,000 households across 15 villages. This is being done through transforming communities’ traditional energy use to renewable and energy efficient technology. Using a holistic approach, a range of technologies and techniques will be introduced to meet the energy needs of entire villages as well as methods to regenerate surrounding areas of land that were once forested. (read more)