Eliminating Global Poverty with Efficient Lights

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The UN and The World Bank Group are seeking alternative clean lighting and solar energy to reduce global poverty, reported UAE media The National.

The World Bank Group operates three programs-Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia and Lighting Global-which pushes for the development and distribution of high-quality low cost product options.

These programs ensure financing is available across the entire supply chain and that the products coming to the market are safe, durable and officially guaranteed.

The projects also encourage governments to build off-grid components into their power plans while funding campaigns to educate users about benefits of high-quality, off-grid lighting and energy, said Anita Marangoly George, World Bank Group senior director at Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (Gogla) fourth conference held in Dubai on Monday.

Governments are also encouraged under the scheme to build off-grid components into their power plans while funding education campaigns to inform public about the benefits of high-quality, off-grid lighting and energy, said George.

Another international initiative Sustainable Energy for All that attempts to advance access to power for the poor has set three targets for 2030: universal energy access; doubling energy efficiency improvements; and doubling the share of global renewable energy.

The targets have been included in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and encompasses more than 100 countries working with private-sector partners.

Philips Lighting is one of the private company partners that is developing low-cost, solar-powered devices.

Burning traditional fuel indoors causes fires and respiratory illness that can kill 1.5 million people each year, roughly equivalent to wiping out the population in Abu Dhabi, said Harry Verhaar, head of global public and government affairs at Philips Lighting.

One method to reduce the harmful health impact from burning kerosene lamps, and reducing carbon emission is switching to solar powered LED lights, added Verhaar.

“For example, a solar-powered LED lantern can light a home for a third of the cost that a family spends a year on kerosene, and is available now,” he said.

Kerosene lamps can emit 270,000 tonnes of black carbon a year, equivalent to 240 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, translating to 4.5% of U.S. emissions.

Traditional lighting and cooking methods cost about US $23 billion per year. For those living in poverty, lighting costs can rake up to $ 100 a kilowatt hour, more than 100 times costlier than in rich countries.

Estimates by charity SolarAid notes the poorest people spend a tenth of their income on fuel for lighting.

Philips solar LED products now comprise of lanterns, street lights, home systems that power small appliances, said Verhaar. These reflect the industry is generally moving towards developing sustainable rural, off-grid energy access using renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and microgrids.

“For energy access and the aim of ending light poverty, this means that solar-LED lighting as a sector will be able to stand on its own feet, and the communities acquiring and benefiting from these solutions will take their socio-economic development in their own hands,” he added.

Constructing electricity grids for remote populations have become too expensive or impractical leading to the modern world’s lack of access to energy, said Russell Sturm, global head of energy access at the IFC.

However, there have been certain technological advancements that have offered alternative solutions to building electric grids. Technological advancements has reduced the price of batteries, solar cells and LED lights by 90% over the past 13 years. LED lighting has also become 10,000% more efficient. These developments have made new products available to users that were previously outside the reach of modern technology.

LED lights and efficient phone-charging technology has led to a “explosion in small solar devices under $50,” and more than 14 million verified products sold on the market. The ongoing trend might lead to development of super-efficient TVs, fans, radios, and refrigeration

“Thus it is no longer just a solar-lighting industry but a solar-energy services industry, providing the previously underserved to climb the energy ladder, emerge from a state of energy poverty and leap up the economic development mountain,” said Strum.

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