You might dream of living off the grid someday, but for billions of people around the world, it’s a reality and not a choice.
The International Energy Agency estimates that when the Earth’s population exeeds 8 billion around 2030, 1.3 billion will still live without electricity. Of those, 700 million will be in Africa.
Although the outlook is grim for those struggling to survive in these developing nations, there is one bright light on the horizon–a solar-powered light to be exact.
A new report by Lighting Africa [PDF], included some interesting statistics about how solar power could be used to illuminate the lives of these off-grid families over the next ten years–an infrastructure shift that could provide them with some key advantages over the rest of the electrically-addicted world.
1. While the rest of the world will begin to increase electrification levels, Africa’s non-electrified population is expected to grow from 110 million households to 120 million households and over 10 million small businesses (630 million people) by 2015. African grid expansion is failing to keep pace with population growth.
2. Sharp decreases in the price of solar components, LEDs, and batteries will mean that off-grid products will become significantly more affordable and erode the upfront cost advantage that kerosene has today.
3. Along with a decline in price, the market will see a corresponding rise in effectiveness and quality. At today’s cost, the solar portable light of 2015 will deliver better quality of build, lighter weight, longer-lasting and environmentally cleaner battery power, a more durable solar panel, and most important, brighter light.
Despite the bright outlook, the report also maintains that lack of consumer education contributes to a slow adoption rate. With majority of African consumers having limited awareness of the health, environmental, and economic advantages of solar lights over traditional fuels, it will take funding for both education and development to bring the solar lighting boom to life.
Image Credit: Lighting Africa