The “Little Sun” Lantern could be a Solution to Energy Poverty

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It’s an aesthetically pleasing, solar-powered light that looks like its namesake — a Little Sun. As unassuming as this little light looks, it not only harnesses the power of the sun, but also has the power to bring light to some of the 1.6 billion people living without regular access to electricity.

In impoverished areas, kerosene-fueled lamps used with cow dung are often the main source of light. However, for each kerosene-fueled lamp used, one ton of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere every five years, and in poor ventilation, can put its users at risk of respiratory infections, eye infections and lung cancer. When the Little Sun is used as a replacement for traditional kerosene-fueled lamps, this solar-powered light can eliminate this common risk. The Little Sun is also one-tenth the cost of a traditional kerosene-fueled lamp, making it more accessible to the general and impoverished population.

Needless to say, this could be a life-changing creation. A result of the collaboration between artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederick Ottesen, the Little Sun is making a debut at the Tate Modern in London as a part of an exhibit running during the 2012 Olympics. The hope is that by the end of 2012, as many as 250,000 people will be tied to the Little Sun as partners, distributors or users. In 2020, the company hopes to have over 50 million lights distributed around the world.

The use of solar power is growing rapidly. Companies and non-profits alike are discovering that the benefits of solar-powered devices extend beyond simply reducing consumption of natural resources at home — they can also provide electricity to nations who don’t have access to the same resources that many developed nations do.

TXU Energy has long recognized the importance of solar power and has partnered with SolarCity to make generation of solar power at home more cost effective. In addition, TXU Energy Solar Academy is educating students about solar energy and bringing solar power to schools throughout Texas. We’ve provided training workshops for teachers through this program, reaching over 2,000 teachers and helping students across the state understand the value of sustainable energy.

What do you think? Is solar power making inroads in third world countries? Do you believe the use of solar power is a viable alternative for developed nations as well?

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