Innovation and Affordability: d.light Solar

d.light solar
The company d.light manufactures and distributes solar lights and other products to people around the world. Currently, 300 people work to complete the goals of d.light: give reliable energy to 100 million people by 2020. Aside from providing power, d.light notes that reliable power also contributes to better performance in school and better overall safety and health.

Nearly one and a half billion people around the world live without access to electricity. For a fifth of the population, the light switch that most people use every night does not exist. Most people without access to power live in regions with the highest rate of poverty: Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Many without access to power use kerosene lamps. But these are polluting and harmful to the people who use them. Burning one for four hours a day for one year results in 100 kg of carbon dioxide emissions, which contributes to climate change.

For individuals, using kerosene lamps can cause severe respiratory problems. If these health problems do not cause death, they severely limit access to jobs, which limits income and continues the cycle of poverty. As a demonstration of the importance of consistent electricity, it has been shown that household businesses with better lighting have a 30 percent increase in income, simply because it allows people to work at night.

The kerosene lamps are also extremely cost inefficient. LED lights produce almost 100 times more wattage than kerosene lamps. But without other options available, a significant portion of individual or family income goes toward kerosene lamps. Merely limiting access to modern technology results in dangerous, and possibly fatal consequences to people in poverty.

In 2004, Sam Goldman witnessed the effect of kerosene lamps when one burned his neighbor in Benin. This personal contact with the effects of limited access to electricity inspired Goldman to educate himself on sustainable and affordable innovation. During this time, he met Ned Tozun. Together, they created d.light, “an international social enterprise serving households without access to reliable electricity.”

d.light provides products such as study lamps, family lanterns and light systems with a phone charging capability. The products are powered through solar energy and can provide light for up to 15 hours. Indicating that the company knows its consumers, the products are versatile and can withstand the effects of weather or other uncontrollable factors.

As of July 31, d.light has empowered over 37 million lives, given solar lighting to almost 10 million children and saved over $1 billion in energy expenses. For each consumer, buying a d.light product can save approximately $150 over 5 years. Moreover, d.light positively impacted the environment by reducing carbon emissions by nearly 3 million tons.

Witnessing the dangerous affects of limited access to energy, two individuals created innovative yet accessible methods to address a problem associated with poverty. The innovation of d.light helps to alleviate both a cause and a consequence of an enormous issue. The benefits of d.light Solar evidences the significant potential impact of ensuring that people in poverty have access to innovative products.

– Tara Wilson

Sources: CNN, Acumen, d.light Solar
Photo: Discovery