February 3, 2016

Solar Lanterns – how third world countries can benefit from them

Solar Lanterns National Geographic

The world is not as shiny and bright as we think it is, according to a study, nearly 1 billion people in the world are deprived of electricity. Can we even imagine a life without electricity, especially when it gets dark?

Around a quarter of the billion who do not enjoy the utility of electricity live in India.
As an alternate means of light at night these people light fire wood, kerosene lamps and hay.
These alternate means, although serve their purpose temporarily, but the harm that these sources cause to them and the environment is irreversible, for instance the use of firewood is depleting the forests at an alarming rate, giving rise to global warming, land sliding and water/air pollution.

In addition to this, the kerosene lamps are a health hazard in itself, as the burning fuel exudes toxic fumes which are detrimental for the health, it has been estimated that around 1.5 billion people around the world suffer with different health issues due to kerosene fuels, which range from respiratory disorders to birth deficiencies.

Hence the alternate means to light up homes where Electricity is not available is not only damaging the environment but also the health of the users.

An alternate procedure that is being widely introduced now around the world is the use of solar lamps. These lamps use the solar energy of the sun to charge their batteries in the daytime and use the stored power to provide light at night; these Lanterns use low power consuming and high intensity Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). The benefits of these lamps are:

1. Low power consumption
o The LEDs consume very little power, on the estimation, the total power consumption of a solar lamp that could light up a small room is no more than a few watts

2. High luminance. The LED technology emits light that is much brighter as compared to ordinary incandescent lights

3. Low heat generation

4. Long life

5. Durable and not easily affected by the environmental hazards

6. Cheap and readily available in market

7. Portable. The Lamp is very handy and can be installed at convenient places, it can also be carried along while travelling.

8. Renewable resource (unlimited). The biggest benefit of the solar lamp is it uses no fuel and runs on a never ending source, i.e. sunlight.

9. No operating cost and fuel

10. No health hazards. Solar lamps are safer to use than kerosene lamps as there is no fire hazard and no health hazards associated with the release of toxic gases due to burning of kerosene fuel.

In a country like India, where a large proportion of village people still use government subsidized kerosene lamps and firewood to lighten up the place at night, the befits of spreading the solar lamps would be extraordinary.

It will be a multi-pronged program, benefiting everyone by improving the health status of the general public who are currently using kerosene lamps, lowering global warming by lowering carbon emissions caused by burning kerosene, slowing the depletion rate of forests and many more uncounted benefits that would add formidably in stabilizing the micro-economy of India and improving the general conditions of the public as Shakespeare beautifully said

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”