SolarAid works to create a solar Africa
Yesterday, we featured a piece on economist Jeffrey Sachs,who supports the concept of using solar power to combat poverty indeveloping nations. Today, we look at an organization that is doingjust that.
Cate Blachett introduces the group.
SolarAid was started in 2006 by Jeremy Leggett, a man whosebifurcated career path makes his founding of the group seem inevitable.Leggett started out working in the oil industry, a business, shall wesay, not typically known for its environmental record. (At least, notin any positive sense.)
In the late 1980s Leggett became convinced that human inducedclimate change would reach a crisis point unless humanity switched fromfossil fuels to non-polluting renewables. So the oilman made one ofthose leaps so common in film and all too rare in life — he left theoil industry and become chief scientist for the group Greenpeace.
Poor land makes poor people; poor people make poor land
SolarAid describes its strategy to combat the vicious cycle of poverty and environmental decline in simple terms:
SolarAid aims to enable the world’s poorest people tohave clean, renewable power. Solar power leads to better education,health, safety and income by allowing poor communities to cook, pumpwater, run fridges, store vaccines, light homes, schools, clinics andbusinesses, power computers and homes, farm more effectively, and muchmore.
The organization funds microsolar projects mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, like the one described by Blanchett.
SolarAid funds and trains individuals in small communities to set upmicrobusinesses involving solar power. One common project is convertingkerosene lamps into solar lanterns, LEDs charged by solar power.
The group also has larger “macrosolar” projects, such as installingrooftop solar generating systems on schools, health clinics andcommunity centers.
The beauty and promise of SolarAid’s work is that it helps peoplewho have no electrical power (or political power for that matter), movedirectly to an abundant renewable energy source without the toxiceffects of passing first through a petroleum-based system, as we havein the West (a system that is still pervasive in “developed” countries).
That’s also part of the beauty of technological change. When basedon a sustainable model, new technologies allow people and whole nationsto leapfrog over inefficient, polluting and hazardous older forms ofindustrialized activity.
SolarAid plans to bring solar power to millions of people throughout Africa. Now that’s the kind of “thousand points of light” program that can change a continent and help form a better world.
The Phoenix Sun covers solar power from Phoenix, Arizona – the sunniest major city in the nation. In addition to reportingon innovations in solar technology, green job growth and advice for homeowners who want to go solar, the Sun investigates stories you won’t findelsewhere. We cover the legal, political and regulatory framework that has keptthe US solar power industry far behind competitors in Europe and Asia. And wetrack the potential for a solar surge today and tomorrow. The sun isedited by investigative reporter Osha Gray Davidson who has covered theenvironment and politics for 25 years, writing for Mother Jones, RollingStone, the New York Times, and other national and international publications.Articles l Homepage
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