Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Solar Light Solution for 1.6 Billion People Living Without Electricity

Business
Solar Light Solution for 1.6 Billion People Living Without Electricity

By Anastasia Pantsios

In poor communities and developing nations, life can be dictated by the sun. When a village has no access to an electrical power grid or generator, or when power has been destroyed by a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane, much work can only take place when there is daylight. It's estimated that a quarter of the world's population—1.6 billion people—live without electricity, limiting the hours they have for activities like cleaning, sewing, socializing or studying.


The Solar Puff is a versatile, safe and pollution-free light source that doesn't require access to a power grid. Photo credit: FAARM

A New York-based design collective called FAARM was founded to offer innovative, climate-friendly, sustainable design solutions for economically and disaster-challenged communities. While the group has worked on many projects such as designs for relief centers, a medical clinic and a school in Haiti to address the impact of the 2010 earthquake, it recently sent its first product into the marketplace. That product, the Solar Puff, is portable, affordable solution to lack of access to light. And its origami-inspired design looks as sleek and cutting edge as something you'd find in a museum gift store.

"While governments are working to increase access to electricity, the global population is growing faster than the rate of electrification," says FAARM. "It is expensive, and sometimes technically infeasible to provide electrification to many areas. Even when electricity does reach a village or town, potential customers may be asked to pay steep fees in order to establish service. For many households, this makes grid connection an impossible dream."

The Solar Puff, described as "the first low-cost inflatable and foldable solar lamp in the world," was created by FAARM co-founder Alice Min Soo Chun, an assistant professor at Parsons The New School of Design. It provides 8 to 12 hours of lights from a ring of LEDs after its lithium-ion battery is recharge with a small solar panel in 4 to 5 hour of direct sunlight. It offers all kinds of advantages over existing solutions such as flashlights and kerosene lamps.

For one thing it's cheaper to use, not requiring the purchase of batteries or kerosene, which can be prohibitive for those with limited income. Unlike flashlights, it leaves the user's hands free. It provides more directed light for tasks than a kerosene lamp and is more energy efficient than either kerosene lamps or flashlights. It's durable, lightweight (just 2.6 ounces), waterproof and folds flat to fit in a pocket, making it ideal for use in disaster situations—or camping. It even floats.

And it's safer and more environmentally friendly than flashlights, kerosene or candles. it doesn't produce spent batteries to end up in landfills nor does it cause indoor air pollution like kerosene, which can lead to eye and respiratory problems. There's no danger of fire.

The Solar Puff's design and construction makes it easy to use anywhere. Photo credit: Solight Designs

The Solar Puff retails for $30. But Solight Design, the company formed by FAARM to market it, is working on programs to provide them to affordably or at no cost to communities in need. And FAARM sees the Solar Puff as an opportunity for economic development as well. They're partnering with local manufacturing and distribution businesses in areas that need access to such a product to create vocational training and jobs.

"In one country, or area of that country, we may work with organizations (NGOs) that will provide the SolarPuff free of charge," says Solight. "In another country, we may subsidize the cost of SolarPuff and allow the local economy to sell them at an affordable price, which in turn will allow them to make a living and add to the overall local economy at large. The end result is still the same, to provide clean, sustainable lighting to those in need."

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Join 'Shout Out For Solar' Day and Send a Powerful Message to Lawmakers

Wind Turbine Trees Generate Renewable Energy for Urban Settings

Solar Energy Could Power America 100 Times Over

Plastic bails, left, and aluminum bails, right, are photographed at the Green Waste material recovery facility on Thursday, March 28, 2019, in San Jose, California. Aric Crabb / Digital First Media / Bay Area News via Getty Images

By Courtney Lindwall

Coined in the 1970s, the classic Earth Day mantra "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" has encouraged consumers to take stock of the materials they buy, use, and often quickly pitch — all in the name of curbing pollution and saving the earth's resources. Most of us listened, or lord knows we tried. We've carried totes and refused straws and dutifully rinsed yogurt cartons before placing them in the appropriately marked bins. And yet, nearly half a century later, the United States still produces more than 35 million tons of plastic annually, and sends more and more of it into our oceans, lakes, soils, and bodies.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Rise and Resist activist group marched together to demand climate and racial justice. Steve Sanchez / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Alexandria Villaseñor

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

My journey to becoming an activist began in late 2018. During a trip to California to visit family, the Camp Fire broke out. At the time, it was the most devastating and destructive wildfire in California history. Thousands of acres and structures burned, and many lives were lost. Since then, California's wildfires have accelerated: This past year, we saw the first-ever "gigafire," and by the end of 2020, more than four million acres had burned.

Read More Show Less
Trending
U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced a pair of climate-related secretarial orders on Friday, April 16. U.S. Department of the Interior

By Jessica Corbett

As the Biden administration reviews the U.S. government's federal fossil fuels program and faces pressure to block any new dirty energy development, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland won praise from environmentalists on Friday for issuing a pair of climate-related secretarial orders.

Read More Show Less
David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less