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5 Crazy Ways to Light the Developing World

5 Crazy Ways to Light the Developing World
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For millions around the world, reliable electricity is only a dream. According to figures from the International Energy Agency, at least 20% of the planet’s inhabitants are still without the simple luxury of a light switch. Many depend on wood fires, kerosene lamps, and other dirty, dangerous sources of energy for just a little bit of light and heat. The World Bank estimates that, as a result, 780 million women and children inhale smoke, which is equivalent to smoking 2 packets of cigarettes, every day. 60 percent of adult, female lung-cancer victims in developing nations are non-smokers. A study at the Berkeley Laboratory at the University of California found that this “dirty light” consumes 77 billion liters of fuel worldwide, costing its predominantly impoverished end-users a total of $38 billion annually.

As solar and other renewable energy technologies become more advanced, however, alternatives are emerging. Since many in developing nations are used to living “off the grid,” these low-tech options are ideal solutions, allowing families to eat, study, and converse with each other long after the sun does down.

Here are five innovative products either already on the market or in development that could drastically reduce fossil fuel consumption and improve indoor air quality around the world. Did we forget one? Please share it in the comments!

1. GravityLight

Although the cost of solar panels continues to drop, they’re still far too expensive for the average family in the developing world. Not only do the panels require complex installation and wiring, they also need a storage battery if the power is to be utilized when the sun’s not shining. GravityLight is an ingenious design that uses a clever belt and pulley system to generate light through the force of gravity. It takes only 3 seconds to lift the weight which powers GravityLight, creating 30 minutes of light on its descent. For free. The GravityLight is currently gathering funding on Indiegogo. Click here to find out how you can help bring it to market.

2. Liter of Light

liter of light, solar lamp

When it comes to affordable and planet-friendly, you can’t get much better than a lamp upcycled from trash. Unlike other solar lanterns, the “Liter of Light” one requires no wires, light bulbs, or costly solar panels. All it needs is a plastic bottle, water, bleach, and some sturdy hands to put it in place. Luckily, those low-cost supplies are things that even those in remote and impoverished areas can get their hands on easily. This brilliantly simple idea has brightened up 28,000 homes and the lives of 70,000 people in the Phillipines.

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12:18PM PST on Dec 31, 2012

Very interesting! Tks!

6:04PM PST on Dec 25, 2012

I want a Waka Waka light now! That's too cool! ...and cute! :-)

1:36PM PST on Dec 22, 2012


3:28AM PST on Dec 21, 2012

thank you

1:20AM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Thank you.

4:58PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Innovative ideas. Good to hear.

3:24PM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Thanks Beth for the wonderful article, photos and video.

10:36AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

thanks for posting

8:59AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Two sources of power not mentioned. which also drive more than just light are : 1) the children's play roundabout which provides power to pump water from wells and 2) micro-hydra schemes which use small local streams and the fall of water to provide power. ............See ..... a group which has a host of clever but very simple technological ideas which help poor villagers, such as "refrigerator" pots, smoke free cookers, fish farming boxes, floating gardens and much else. Pass it on !!

7:00AM PST on Dec 16, 2012

Thank you for the article...

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