Environment & Poverty Times
predictable energy savings opportunities for a country.
By contrast, if you exchange light bulbs, behav- iour can change. People have less incentive to switch the light off if they are not paying as much. Low-energy light bulbs seem very effec- tive because they are cheap and promise high energy savings. But actual savings are harder to predict and certainly harder to measure.
– Do you consider replicating the model in other regions?
– We are in a process of exploring where conditions are appropriate in other coun- tries. Obviously it is in our interest to make governments aware of what is possible: the more refrigerators you replace with our highly efficient products, the more CO2 savings you generate.
Here, national emissions factors play an im- portant role: while the costs for the refrigera- tor, the transportation and the management are essentially the same no matter where in the world, the amount of carbon credits
generated depends on the emissions factor of the country.
– Could similar incentives for fridge ex- changes be created in developed countries?
– Ultimately, it is about making savings in energy and environmental costs pay for the consumer. Low electricity prices mean that consumers are often not able to recoup the additional cost of a more efficient ap- pliance via the lower operating costs over a reasonable period of time. Thus, incen-
Towards a brighter future By Dorcas Cheng-Tozun
When the sun sets this evening, about 1.6 billion people worldwide will conduct night-time work, study, cook, and social- ize in near-darkness. For families without access to electricity, one of the few options
for light will be the kerosene lantern, which is about 100 times dimmer than a single incandescent bulb.
Kerosene comes at a very high cost: it is both expensive – costing as much as $10 per month for dollar-a-day families – and dan-
gerous, leading to respiratory infections and deadly fires. In addition, millions of tonnes of carbon emissions are released every year from burning kerosene.
For the poorest households in the world, the benefits of modern lighting alternatives are clear, resulting in higher incomes through increased productivity and improved educa- tional outcomes for children. Lives are saved due to the reduced risk of kerosene fire and indoor pollution.
ght Design, a for-profit social enterprise founded in 2007, is one of the key players at the forefront of providing product solutions for bottom-of-the-pyramid households. The venture capital funded company wants to replace every kerosene lantern in the world with clean, safe and bright light. The enter- prise is committed to using the very best design principles to create products for the developing world, resulting in lighting and energy solutions that are appropriate, high- quality and affordable.
ght Solata is one of the most affordable solar lamps available to households like this one in Tanzania. The light provided can enable activities for multiple family members. Theo Steemers/D.li
In 2008, D.li
ght introduced a product line of solar-rechargeable light-emitting diode (LED) lights, the Nova Series and the Solata, that provide up to 32 hours of bright light on a full charge. The products utilize the latest and best LED and solar technology in the world, providing safe and high-quality re- placements for kerosene lanterns and other hazardous or unreliable power sources.
One of the most significant benefits of brighter and more dependable lighting is that children and young people can study for longer hours, thus increasing the rate of learning and increasing their potential for a bright future. D.li
With a retail price range of about $12 to $40, these products are among the lowest cost solar lights available in the developing world. The affordability and durability of the products ensures that more families can permanently choose to leave behind danger- ous and dirty fuel-based lighting sources. The products also offer features such as AC-charging, fast-charging, voltage spike protection, and mobile phone charging. As such, they are designed specifically for the particular challenges of our customers’
environments and for meeting their energy needs to enhance their quality of life even beyond lighting.
Since 2008, D.li
ght has established sales offices in India and East Africa. The need in these particular markets is immense: about 500 million people in India alone have ac- cess to no or only intermittent electricity; the East Africa region is home to another 150 million off-grid customers. D.li
ght is also actively partnering with diverse distribution partners throughout the world, utilizing regular market, NGO and financing chan- nels to increase the reach of its products.
Customer response has been extremely positive, and the measurable impacts en- couraging. In one village in India, all 47 households were able to purchase a D.li
ght Nova through an innovative financing model offered by a US-based NGO part- ner. With a small down payment and low monthly payments, the products became very affordable for even extremely low income families. Within two months, the entire village reported an average increase in monthly household income by 50%, from $12 to $18. Families also experienced cost savings from no longer having to purchase kerosene, as well as improved study condi- tions and indoor air quality. Several months after the project, the repayment rate of all 47 households has been 100%.
ght’s target is to replace at least 20 mil- lion kerosene lanterns with solar-recharge- able lights by 2020. About one year after the product launch, over 200,000 lives have already been positively impacted with clean, safe and bright light. As the company continues to scale up, this ambitious target – and the large-scale change it will bring – could well be within reach.
About the author: Dorcas Cheng-Tozun is the Director of Communications, D.li
ght Design. www.dlightdesign.com
tives that reward more efficient appliances – whether it is through carbon credits or tax incentives or some other mechanism – would indeed help to encourage custom- ers to purchase more efficient appliances. BSH would certainly be very open to such incentives.
About the authors: Christina Gradl and Aline Krämer are co-founders and directors of the Emergia Institute, pursuing independent research and consulting for sustainable business solutions to development challenges.
Off-grid Renewable Energy Solutions in Bangladesh
Grameen Shakti in Bangladesh is one of the largest and fastest growing rural based renewable energy companies in the world. It was initiated in 1996 by the core-builders of Grameen Bank in order to rescue the rural people from energy poverty which hampers their social and economic development. Inspired by the vision of Professor Yunus who has great faith in the modern tech- nology and inherent creativity and capacity of the rural people, Mr Dipal Barua, the company’s Managing Director and one of the core-builders of Grameen Bank, wanted to create a synergy between renewable energy technology and micro-credit in order to give the rural people a chance to improve their quality of life and also take part in income generating activities.
Through its innovative microcredit scheme, Grameen Shakti has embarked on an ambitious programme to provide a range of affordable renewable energy technologies to rural households. Already, more than 205,000 homes across Bangladesh have installed PV solar systems capable of powering lights and small-scale electronic appliances. Over 8,000 PV solar systems are be- ing installed per month, and demand for the systems is increasing exponentially. The goal is to install two million PV solar systems in homes by 2011 and seven and a half million by 2015, which would reach half of the rural population of Bangladesh.
In addition, Grameen Shakti has installed 6,000 biogas plants, which convert animal dung and organic litter into biogas and slurry. The biogas can be used to cook food, for lighting and to produce electricity. The slurry is used as organic fertilizer and as fish feed. Grameen Shakti has
a goal of building 500,000 biogas plants by 2015. Grameen Shakti has also disseminated over 20,000 improved cooking stoves and has the goal of providing one million stoves by 2010 covering 35,000 villages.
The employment and other socio-economic opportunities of the programme are far-reaching. At least 20,000 jobs have already been created with the current uptake of these three renewable energy technologies across Bangladesh. The goal is to create at least 100,000 jobs, mainly for women, by 2015.
Grameen Shakti is an example of a decentralized solution to clean energy for the poor, which is especially powerful as it is commercial in operation and microfinance-driven, and as it substitutes kerosene (the usual lighting fuel, held responsible for respiratory diseases) with photovoltaic electricity, biogas and improved stoves. Thus it addresses health, environment and poverty at the same time, aiming at a future where rural households of Bangladesh would have access to environment friendly and non-fossil energy at affordable costs.
Sources: UNEP (2009): Global Green New Deal: Policy Brief. (Original source: Barua, Dipal: “Bringing Green Energy, Health, Income and Green Jobs to Bangladesh.” Presentation at the Preparatory Meeting, Interna- tional Advisory Board to the International Climate Protection Initiative of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Poznan, Poland, December 7, 2008). Grameen Shakti website: www.gshakti.org
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