Author: Evelyn Yu
Coming down with possible cases of strep throat, bronchitis, and Covid-19, a power outage was the last thing on my mind. However, at the start of my well-anticipated spring break, I was faced with the fact that I would have no power–and no light– from my home to help me get through this illness. The next step in a power outage is to either run the generator, or frantically gather all the flashlights, lanterns, and other gadgets to return to semi-normalcy. Sifting through my box of predominantly battery powered devices, I realized that renewable resources such as hand-powered lights or solar lights were far less risky in an extended emergency situation. With solar-powered lights, recharging them was easily accessible by putting them on a windowsill or outside. The Solar Helix, a collapsible solar-powered light cube, easily followed me throughout the house; they stayed bright for my needs for hours. Even while resting in bed, I could place a Helix on my bed with no worries due to their makeup of soft and flexible material, biodegradable TPU. While performing daily tasks, I would most often hang the light from its strap for better light ability.
Once my house had regained power, it had been roughly a day. I then wondered, how did people around the world live without power for so much longer? My struggles during this short time period were incomparable to many in the world.
Energy Poverty, a Cycling Issue
According to a report by The World Bank in 2021, the number of people in the world without access to electricity is 759 million in 2019. These numbers contribute to the idea of energy poverty, or a situation where people do not have access to or cannot afford sustainable energy services or products on a daily basis. Energy poverty is most commonly seen in poorer, undeveloped countries due to their lack of economic and technological advancements. However, the main issue in these countries is that due to their lack of energy resources that they cannot afford, they cannot get themselves out of poverty. This leads to an endless cycle of continuous poverty for a long time to come. However, renewable energy could change the future and bring millions of people out of the darkness.
Not only does renewable energy such as solar power bring sustainable light in the dark, modern energy helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Without renewable energy, many countries are forced to rely on kerosene, generators and torches. Nigeria may pose as an example, where millions of Nigerians do not have access to electricity. But being Africa’s biggest oil producer, they use fossil fuels as their primary energy source. According to Olu Verheijen, the founder of Latimer Energy, energy poverty itself drives the use of fossil fuels forward even faster. Because of the scarcity of Nigeria’s renewable energy supply, diesel generators and other gas-powered technologies persist as the lack of modern technologies continue to be inaccessible.
A Step Forward
While renewable energy and modern technologies lack presence in most underdeveloped countries, the Solar Puff has slowly been making its way to help these people. Providing light at local villages in Sierra Leone has made a difference socially and educationally. Solight products, including the previously mentioned Solar Helix, have made their way across the world to spread solar technology in all places. People who’ve lost in devastating hurricanes, those in underserved regions, campers, and more have benefited using these products just like how it saved me.
Additionally, all Solight products, including the previously mentioned Solar Helix, are made with recyclable materials and contain no PVC to benefit the environment. In addition, a Recycling Program is available so one can send an old light back which provides a circuit to teach solar technology to children in underserved regions.