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A Liter of Light, lighting up lives!

Ever thought of what you would normally do to a plastic bottle after drinking out of it? Ever thought of what happens to a bottle, once you throw it away? Or how you could use the bottle in any other way, than disposing it? Well here is one solution that has caught the world’s attention. This revolutionizing, new solar lighting movement is called, ‘Liter of Light’.

A Brazilian mechanic and inventor, Alfredo Moser, invented a unique and simple alternative to illumination, when a power outage affected his workshop. With little materials around him, he used everyday items to build a daylight solution. Inspired by the simplicity of this invention, Illac Diaz, founder of MyShelter Foundation, decided to spread the invention in his energy hungry, cyclonic affected parts of his native country, the Philippines. The ‘Liter of Light’ movement started since then; Opening 53 chapters across nations like India, Philippines, United States, Pakistan, among other, since 2011.

So what is so unique about this solar based solution? How is it different from other solar based solutions out there? Why is it attracting so much attention worldwide? The answer lies in the innovation itself. This unique solution uses minimum resources – a plastic bottle, a little amount of bleach, a small aluminium sheet, resin and basic tools.  This bottle is now ready to be fitted on an aluminium rooftop. On a sunny day, sunlight refracts through the bleached water, illuminating the room below.  It is estimated to have an effect, equivalent to a 50 Watt bulb[1]. All this, at a cost of less than $2[2]! Since the success of Liter of Light’s daylight solution, the foundation has started work on a night light solution as well. The night solution is modular and integrates with the daylight solution using a few LED bulbs and a compact solar panel. Though the cost of the night light solution is presently around $15-20[3], Liter of Light is committed to innovate further, to reduce cost below $10, noting that the minimum cost for a one light bulb system is $10, which is yet marginally high for most regions that fall under extreme poverty.

According to a World Bank[4] report on energy, 1.1 billion people are yet without access to electricity. Globally, an estimated 250 to 500 million households still rely on fuel-based lamps to supply their basic lighting needs. Kerosene being the most predominant fuel. Users of kerosene lamps pay 20-30%[5] of their annual family’s income for the fuel. However a bigger price is paid for their well-being, in the form of injuries from burns, insufficient illumination for education of children, and the significant health impacts from indoor household air pollution (UNEP). An estimated 4.3 million deaths every year from lung cancer, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lower respiratory disease, and ischaemic heart disease are attributable to HAP emissions[6]. More than three quarters of those deaths (3.31 million) occur in South East Asia and the Western Pacific[7]. Kerosene is also a major emitter of Black Carbon[8], a major contributor to climate change along with the CO2 released from burning of Kerosene[9] . Solar based solutions like the Liter of Light daylight and night lights are helping people to switch to a safer source of light and an inexpensive solution.

Among the regions Liter of Light has penetrated, the most impressive utility of the product are in war-affected, human displaced and catastrophic climatic zones. For instance, the northern belt of Pakistan, Philippines and the east coast of India. Around 35 kilometres southeast of Peshawar, lies one of Pakistan’s largest refugee camps – Jalozai IDP refugee camp. Its home to an estimated 36,000 refugees. Access to basic amenities like electricity, roads and water are very scarce. Maternity wards have very little or no light to run emergency operations. The camp has no lighting along the streets and public washrooms. Vaqas Butt, Founder of ‘Liter of Light – Pakistan’ in collaboration with Pepsi Co Pakistan initiated “Lighting up Lives”. This programme has lit up public restrooms, streets and hospital labor wards. Refugees from the camp express their feeling of having light at night as ‘a blessing’ to their hardship they face.

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Similarly, in the far south East Asia region of the Philippines, a country constantly ravaged by cyclonic storms, Liter of Light installed up to 200,000 daylight and nightlight solutions (pepsico). ‘Liter of Light Bangalore’, recently helped light three hamlets, near coast of Vizag. This included installation of streetlights and hut rooftop night light solutions in areas where electricity had never been reached. A huge impact has been in the employment of rural men and women, to earn a living by maintaining the solution.

Many critics to the Liter of Light movement raise one very important question. How is the use of waste bottles sustainable? What happens to the bottles after its lifespan is over? Use of the bottles for lighting helps in reducing the otherwise disposed bottles which usually land up in landfills and take years to decompose. The estimated lifespan of a Liter of Light bottle and the bleach mixture has been recorded to be around an average of 3 years, though, different regions and different conditions could extend or shorten the time. Liter of Light is considering a plan of action with regard to the disposal of the bottles post its usage stage.

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Energy for all is going to be the single most important priority for all developed and developing economies in the coming decades. As their economies grow, so does their need for energy. Sustainable energy solutions like renewable energy will be a crucial factor, as economies are looking to curb their impact on the environment as they grow. Sustainable low cost energy solutions like the Liter of Light initiative will play a crucial role in providing energy requirements to regions that would yet need distributed power.

 

 

Joseph Varun

 

[1] “Liter of Light’s solar-powered, DIY lamp made from a plastic …” 2015. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/liter-of-lights-solarpowered-diy-lamp-made-from-a-plastic-bottle-is-transforming-lives-9993728.html>

[2] “Liter of Light | Global Brands Magazine.” 2014. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.globalbrandsmagazine.com/liter-of-light/>

[3] “Bottling Solar Energy for All by Illac Diaz — The G Project.” 2013. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.thisisyourplanet.com/ideas/community/412>

[4] “Energy Overview – World Bank.” 2013. 11 Jun. 2015 <http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/energy/overview>

[5] “Solar Power Off the Grid: Energy Access for World’s Poor by …” 2012. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://e360.yale.edu/feature/solar_power_off_the_grid_energy_access_for_worlds_poor/2480/>

[6] “WHO | Household air pollution and health.” 2005. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs292/en/>

[7] “Kerosene Lamps are an Important Target for Reducing …” 2014. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://www.unep.org/ccac/Media/PressReleases/KeroseneLampsImportantTargetforReducingPollu/tabid/794525/Default.aspx>

[8]Black carbon (BC) is the most strongly light-absorbing component of particulate matter (PM), and is formed by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuels, and biomass. BC is emitted directly into the atmosphere in the form of fine particles (PM2.5). BC is the most effective form of PM, by mass, at absorbing solar energy: per unit of mass in the atmosphere, BC can absorb a million times more energy than carbon dioxide (CO2). BC is a major component of “soot”, a complex light-absorbing mixture that also contains some organic carbon (OC).

[9] “The kerosene lamp and black carbon – warming the planet …” 2013. 10 Jun. 2015 <http://solar-aid.org/black-carbon-and-the-kerosene-lamp/>

Now, sell solar power to discoms to reduce electricity bill

NEW DELHI: Delhi took a huge leap in renewable energy generation on Tuesday. Power watchdog Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) announced regulations for net metering of renewable energy, giving Delhiites a chance to become renewable energy suppliers. The regulations outline how people can generate renewable energy in their premises, and then reduce their electricity bills by the amount of power they supply to the grid. The regulations are expected to be enforced within a week.

While the net metering regulations apply to all forms of renewable energy like solar, hydro and wind, in Delhi only solar generation is feasible. Many households and organizations already generate solar power for their own consumption, but the new regulations will allow them to supply to the grid and receive energy credits or adjust the units supplied against their electricity bills.

DERC chairperson P D Sudhakar said, “With this, consumers can set up their own solar panels and either supply directly to the grid or use it partially. Whatever you supply to the grid, you can draw back whenever you need it”. How much power a person supplies and draws back from the grid will be metered. If they draw more than they supply, the difference will be billed to them. If they draw less, they will be given energy credits in the next billing cycle.

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To become a renewable energy generator, a person will have to apply to their area’s discom for a connection to the renewable energy system. The discom will then allow the connection after analyzing transformer-level capacity. “The capacity of renewable energy system to be installed at any premises shall be subject to the feasibility of interconnection with the grid, the available capacity of the service line connection of the consumers of the premises, and the sanctioned load of the consumer. Minimum capacity for the renewable energy system should not be less than 1kW peak,” said an official on Tuesday.

Two meters will be installed in the consumer’s premises — a renewable energy meter to measure total renewable energy generated, and a net meter to measure the difference between the power drawn and contributed to the grid. Check meters can be installed by either party at their own cost. “Charges for the testing and installation of net meters will be borne by the consumer, and those for the renewable energy meter by the distribution licensee,” the regulations state.

Many large-scale power consumers like malls, hospitals, schools and government buildings already generate solar power. “The MoEF building in Jor Bagh generates up to 1MW power which it is unable to use. Now it can supply its excess power to the grid and get adjustments in its power bills. We also hope households will opt for renewable energy generation,” said a DERC official. For discoms, the advantage is that any renewable energy they source in this way will count towards their renewable power obligations that they have not been able to meet.

 

Source: TOI, New Delhi

India Wants To Switch 26 Million Water Pumps To Solar Power Instead Of Diesel

BY  JEFF SPROSS 

The Indian government is aiming to swap out 26 million fossil-fuel-powered groundwater pumps for solar-powered ones, Bloomberg reports.

The pumps are used by farmers throughout the country to pull in water for irrigation, and currently rely on diesel generators or India’s fossil-fuel-reliant electrical grid for power. Pashupathy Gopalan, the regional head of SunEdison, told Bloomberg that 8 million diesel pumps already in use could be replaced right now. And India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy estimates another 700,000 diesel pumps that could be replaced are bought in India every year.

“The potential is huge,” said Tarun Kapoor, the joint secretary at the ministry. “Irrigation pumps may be the single largest application for solar in the country.”

The program works by subsidizing the swap, and operates in different capacities in India’s various states, sometimes subsidizing the solar pumps up to 86 percent. Thanks to that aid, and the dramatic collapse in prices for solar power, the pumps pay themselves off in one to four years, according to Ajay Goel, the chief executive officer of Tata Power Solar Systems Ltd., a panel maker and contractor. And Stephan Grinzinger, the head of sales for a German solar water pump maker, told Bloomberg the economics will only get better: diesel prices will rise and spike during farming season, and economies of scale will help the swap program.

Two-thirds of India’s electricity is generated by coal, with natural gas and hydroelectric making up most of the rest. But the monsoon season is growing more erratic — likely due to climate change — making power from the hydroelectric dams less reliable as well. Coal is growing in economic cost for India, so power plants often sit idle, and the coal that is easy to reach would requiredisplacing major population centers.

The national grid that relies on those fuels has seen few updates since it was constructed in they 1960s. It’s also under growing stress from India’s rising middle class, which is adopting air conditioning and running water in massive numbers — all in a country prone to heat waves, again thanks in part to climate change. As backup, many Indian residents and businesses rely on diesel generators, which leaves them vulnerable to the fuel market and contributes to fossil fuel emissions.

Even when the grid is working, around 300 million of India’s 1.2 billion inhabitants don’t have access to it. When it’s not, rolling blackouts are common. Many farmers are able to draw only four hours of power a day from the grid, and that often at night. Heat waves in 2013 were accompanied by widespread blackouts, and a two-day grid failure in 2012 left over 600 million Indians without power.

Ironically, thanks to the kind of distributed and sustainable generation the swap program represents, many of India’s rural poor actually faired much better during the blackout than the grid-dependent middle-class. It’s one of the strengths of solarin particular, even before climate change is considered: a more decentralized power system, based around “microgrids” and individual power generation, rather than a centralized system reliant on the good function of large, singular power providers. In India in particular, sunlight is most plentiful at the times when demand tends to peak. That leaves the power system more adaptable, less prone to central failures, and thus more hospitable to those still struggling to overcome poverty in particular.

Beyond India’s pump swap program, other efforts in south Asia and northern Africa are already underway to bypass grid expansion entirely, and bring solar power and microgrids directly to poor people.

Source: Thinkprogress.org