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!
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
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.
Image via Thinkstock
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