Solar-powered LED lanterns provide better, healthier light for working and learning, and for charging mobile devices in unelectrified regions
Naples, Fla. — Global BrightLight Foundation (GBF) today announces its partnership with Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) to work together to provide portable, solar-powered lanterns to 50,000 individuals and families in developing regions of the world that have no access to electricity. The GBF-GSEP partnership creates the largest distribution ever of solar-powered lanterns by non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The commitment to place 50,000 lanterns was made by GSEP during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in June 2012 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The pledge supports United Nation’s Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s goal to achieve universal electricity access by 2030. Currently, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity.
GSEP, a not-for-profit organization based in Montreal, was formed in 1992 after the first U.N. environmental conference in Rio. Its global members include U.S. utility companies, American Electric Power and Duke Energy, as well as Germanys RWE, France’s Électricité de France, Canadas Hydro-Québec, Japans Kansai Electric Power Company, Brazils Eletrobras, Russias RusHydro, Italys Enel, South Africas Eskom, Mexicos CFE and Chinas State Grid Corporation. GSEPs mission is to play an active role in global electricity issues within the international framework and to promote sustainable energy development through electricity sector projects and human capacity-building activities in developing and emerging nations worldwide.
The not-for-profit GBF was formed in 2011 with the mission of raising the standards of living in the world’s poorest communities by providing affordable solar-powered lanterns to unelectrified regions of the world. Co-founders are current Duke Energy Chairman, President and CEO, James E. (Jim) Rogers, and former Cinergy Corp. and Duke Energy executive, J. Joseph (Joe) Hale Jr. Other board members include R. Kerry Clark, retired chairman and chief executive of Cardinal Health, and David Shane, retired chief executive officer of LDI Ltd LLC.
“We’re bringing safe, cost-effective and renewable power to remote areas of the world – areas not likely to be connected to an electrical grid in our grandchildrens lifetimes,” said GBF Co-Founder Jim Rogers. “People who live off the grid spend a disproportionate amount of their monthly income on carbon-based fuels only to spend countless hours in dim light and polluted air. For them, a single solar lantern with an integrated cell phone charger makes all the difference in the world.”
GSEP Executive Director Martine Provost added: “Remote communities without access to a reliable and affordable source of energy are the most prone to poverty and low-quality living conditions. Extending the grid to these communities may sometimes not be an option, and as a result, off-grid solutions are the most efficient way to give access to clean energy.
“The simple provision of solar light will generate opportunities that these people currently lack. Our partnership with GBF is very valuable and will help us be more effective in reaching our commitment to place 50,000 solar lamps in these communities in need,” Provost said.
Working closely with GSEP, GBF is charged with delivering the lanterns to targeted project sites that the two organizations will mutually select.
The self-contained lanterns are manufactured by Greenlight Planet Inc. of Riverside, Ill. They look like a camping lantern but their light emitting diode (LED) illumination is twice as bright as a typical kerosene-fueled, hurricane-type lantern. The lanterns photovoltaic charging panel, which is about the size of tablet computer, stores electricity in a lithium-ion battery pack that can be fully charged in about four to six hours of daylight. With a full charge, the lantern will provide up to 16 hours of light, depending on use.
At night, instead of using kerosene, firewood or candles, the LED-powered lantern provides much improved and safer lighting for reading and working, as well as energy for charging mobile devices, the ownership of which is growing rapidly among off-grid populations who frequently have to walk miles to find an energy source to charge their device. According to GBF, the lanterns are also better for the environment, and the chance of injury from toppled fuel-powered lamps is eliminated. Users also report fewer respiratory problems since they are no longer breathing the fumes from kerosene or wood.
In pilot projects in Africa (Rwanda) and South America (Argentina) in 2011, GBF distributed several hundred of two different solar-powered lantern models. Due to its rugged construction, reliability and convenience, Greenlight Planets Sun King™ Pro solar-powered lantern was ultimately chosen as the lantern of choice for GBF. In addition, GBF has demonstrated and tested its technical capabilities, financial logic and the adaptable operational approach of its business model in the pilot projects.
“GBF has created a collaborative network of partners with different positions in the supply chain,” said GBF Co-Founder and President Joe Hale. “As such, GBF serves as a ’connector,’ aligning the various players in the solar lantern industry to deliver their products to unelectrified populations. This includes product manufacturers, energy suppliers, distributors, local organizations and our country managers. Together, we raise the funds to make this happen.
“As long as we can bring together the diverse stakeholders needed to get the lamps in the hands of those who need them the most, the entire globe is our target,” Hale continued. “Our pricing is unique to each location, based on the other fuel sources our solar lanterns are replacing, such as kerosene, candles and wood.”