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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

How Solar Power Can Empower Communities


Two young girls reading a book with the help of a solar powered flashlight.

How Solar Power Can Empower Communities

Solar energy continues to break records and revolutionize the energy industry. In 2016, the solar industry doubled its growth and added 14,762 MW of installed capacity in the United States1. But solar isn’t just an American phenomenon: GTM Research estimates that solar demand rose 45 percent around the world in 2016.

Why is solar energy becoming more popular as an alternative energy source? For one reason, it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions worldwide while helping prevent air and water pollution. In addition to these environmental benefits, solar energy also has the power to change the lives of millions of people around the world who don’t have steady access to electricity.

The Issue at Hand

Currently 1.2 billion people around the world live without electricity. Without access to power, communities have less economic opportunity, increased air pollution, and increased health risks.

With greater access to electricity, comes opportunity. Electricity allows children to study after dark, leading to greater success; enables workers to increase productivity by extending their days, increasing revenue; and permits families to access valuable information from television, radio, and cell phones outside daylight hours.

Without reliable electricity, many must rely on fossil fuel sources, such as kerosene and wood-burning stoves. Besides the climate-changing pollution emitted by these sources, both kerosene lamps and wood-burning stoves contribute to indoor air particles that can lead to lung diseases and scarring, exacerbate asthma symptoms, or even cause cardiac arrest. The World Bank estimates around 780 million women and children inhale particulate-laden kerosene fumes, equivalent to smoking two cigarette packs a day, causing millions to experience potentially fatal respiratory illness. Apart from the detrimental health consequences, kerosene is expensive and can cost more than most families make in a single day. Another unintended side effect of kerosene lanterns is risk for fire, which happens when a lantern is unfortunately knocked over or malfunctions.

In most communities experiencing energy poverty, there is little-to-no grid infrastructure, meaning no poles or wires supply electricity and no light after the sun has set. Many communities in developing countries, like Rwanda or India, may have grid access, but must contend with frequent power outages from unreliable connections. Imagine if you couldn’t rely on a steady supply of electricity to power your office or factory, limiting work to less than eight hours depending on the time of year. Where grid-connected electricity is present, much of it is powered by dirty fossil fuels.

Solar Power as a Solution

So what's one solution? Solar energy. Solar panels on top of a factory, or panels hooked up to community grids- these technologies can bring electricity to countries lacking the capacity to support national grids. Empowering rural communities with solar technology can help lift people out of poverty, increase access to education, and power the world with 100% clean pollution-free energy.

In the meantime, many communities are experience the empowering effects of portable solar devices. Studies have shown that portable solar devices are one tool that helps eradicate energy poverty. By providing electricity for short amounts of time, portable solar devices are increasing access to education, allowing longer work hours resulting in more income, and reducing the health risks associated with kerosene lamps.

A WakaWaka solar charger is an example of a portable solar device. WakaWaka sells flashlights and chargers with solar panels that can be used anywhere in the world. Through the WakaWaka Share the Sun Foundation solar lamps are donated for emergency aid relief, providing light and power to those in need.

For a limited time, when you refer a friend who successfully enrolls with CleanChoice Energy by September 30, 2017, we’ll send you both a free WakaWaka Power+ solar charger. Share clean energy with your friends and family today at CleanChoiceEnergy.com/Refer. Together we can change the world by shining a light on it.


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