David Stein is the founder of Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association (VANREPA), whose Solar-Powered Desalinator Would Serve as Model for Small Coastal Communities for the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu was a finalist in DM2009. In this post, David talks about a crippling human, economic, and environmental problem shared by 260 million mostly rural people in poor countries globally.
Most of the people of Vanuatu spend half their day in darkness. For them, there is no electric grid. Instead they must rely on kerosene and other polluting and sometimes dangerous power sources. But safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and accessible power sources are coming on the market in Vanuatu and other, mostly rural countries in the Pacific islands and elsewhere.
The devices are are battery-charged, easy to maintain, and simple to install, and they outperform other rural options like "two-light" solar home systems. Costing from US$20-$100, depending on the product type, they are cheapter than solar home systems, which are priced from US$800-$1,000, and far more affordable than kerosene, which can cost a rural family US$30 a month.
The devices are described as"picosolar" ("pico" meaning very small). They usually consist of a solar panel and a combination light emitting diode (LED) and built-in battery.
Thanks to a partnership between VANWODS (Vanuatu’s premier micro-finance institution), VANREPA (Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association), and Green Power (VANREPA’s “trading arm”), thousands of rural Vanuatu households are enjoying solar-powered electric lighting this holiday season.
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