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December 26, 2012

Smartphones, led lighting and 50 watts of solar power for everyone

In the past, Henry IV of France and President Hoover made promises of a chicken in every pot.

Even in the best-case scenarios, the number of people without electricity will tick up to 1.5 billion by 2030, as population growth outstrips electrification. According to a recent study by the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, $10 billion a year is spent on kerosene in sub-Saharan Africa alone to illuminate homes, workplaces and community areas. Globally, the figure has been put at $36 billion. Flexiway, an Australian-Argentine maker of solar lamps, found in its trials in Tanzania that households often spent more than 10% of their income on kerosene, and other studies have put the figure as high as 25%. And kerosene does not merely eat up household income that could be spent on other things. It is also dangerous. Kerosene lanterns, a century-old technology, are fire hazards. The wicks smoke, the glass cracks, and the light may be too weak to read by. The World Health Organisation says the fine particles in kerosene fumes cause chronic pulmonary disease. Burning kerosene also produces climate-changing carbon-dioxide emissions.

There are now LED lights for $10-27 each with lumens 5-30 lumens of light.

Technological improvements in

* lowering the cost of LED lights
* lowering the cost of solar power
* increasing the brightness of LED lights
* increasing the power from solar power
* increasing the production of portable solar and LED lights

By 2017-2020, the $5-20 per person could provide lighting and electrical charging and basic electrical needs for every person in the world.

$30 billion to provide $20 of LED lighting and solar power to the 1.5 billion who would not have basic electrification through other means.
Fairly full featured smartphones cost under $100 in China now. By 2017, a $20 smartphone will be more capable that that $100 phone now.

$72 billion would be the cost of two years of kerosene spending to fill the basic electrification, lighting and communication gap.

The IEA (International Energy Agency) estimated that for 2009 there were 1.3 billion without electricity (about 20% of the world population).





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