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Replacing kerosene lamps with solar lanterns

Andy Schroeter's picture

I am really in a rush, I am leaving Vientiane to participate in The Tech Award ceremony, organized by The Tech Museum in San Jose, California in the next hours. We were selected as a Laureate for one of our innovative concept of selling Light per hour with portable battery lanterns charged by a central village charging station operated by a village entrepreneur. Let me introduce briefly the idea. I will continue to describe the approach more in detail in the next days.  Sunlabob is a renewable energy company based in Laos. Sunlabob directly replaces kerosene for lighting in Lao villages with solar lanterns. Kerosene is a small steady expense of poor rural households and over a year adds up to one of their main cash-expenses. The combined use of huge numbers of kerosene lamps in rural areas results in a major carbon footprint of most developing countries. Sunlabob intends to enter this potential mass market.
Village entrepreneurs rent large solar charging stations from Sunlabob with state-of-the-art charging and system control. These charging stations are set up at a central place in the village. The entrepreneurs use them to recharge portable and exchangeable lanterns and other equipment (mobile phones, radios, laptops, etc). The village households pay a charging fee that covers all costs. The village entrepreneurs operate in a franchise arrangement with Sunlabob which includes regular training and operational and financial services.
This configuration allows taking advantage of economies of scale on the charging and controlling equipment. The resulting recharging fees for the lanterns are comparable to kerosene costs of households for lighting. The aim is to successfully compete with kerosene.
Each lantern has an integrated microprocessor that gives the lantern a unique identity and monitors and safeguards its battery. During each recharging a Systems Control Unit at the charging station collects data on the use and status of each individual lantern. The data is accessed whenever a technician of Sunlabob is at the charging station by connecting the control unit with a laptop. The data from many diverse charging stations spread throughout the country is analyzed with a specific software. This allows tracking the status of all lanterns and charging stations and thereby ensuring high operational efficiency of all equipment. The data also allows to unambiguously attribute each charging of a lamp anywhere in the country to a particular small saving of kerosene. This opens the possibility for trustworthy and reliable carbon trading for such highly dispersed small savings, that add up to a major carbon footprint.
Investments are through private channels for the charging stations, and through public grants into revolving funds for purchasing the first batch of lamps for launching the village entrepreneurs. This results in a Public Private Partnership for providing electric lighting among poor households in remote rural villages.


Submitted by Derrick Carvey on
I would laove to get more information in this project, to see how this could be helpful to people in my country which do not have access to electricity or able to afford the service offered. Love to become apart of sucgh a useful initiative to improve the lives of others

Andy Schroeter, manager of the project that was a DM2005 winner, can be reached at Check out this link too --

Submitted by Brad Wylam on
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Submitted by Laederich on
I am currently enrolled in the New Energy Management Program offered by the University of St Gallen, in Switzerland. As part of the study, I am writing a paper dealing with the following issue: From Innovation to market: Financing a product when the buyer is not the end user. More specifically, I will explore the case of water purification units that are needed in many remote locations around the world: I identified some great cheap and easy to install equipment, and I am now trying to understand how such equipment can be deployed on to the market. I would like to speak with somebody having experience in this matter, in order to understand how to go about the financing of innovative projects. Anyone to share ideas with me on the subject? Thank you Laederich

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