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How Solar Lanterns Are Giving Power to the People – A National Geographic Re-Share

Clean-energy lights are transforming lives—and creating entrepreneurs—in Africa and India.

The following Blog is a fascinating story that has been kindly borrowed from National Geographic. The whole article can be found in full on the National geographic website. To red more, simply “CLICK HERE”

PRASHANT MANDAL FLIPS ON A CANDY-BAR-SIZE LED LIGHT in the hut he shares with his wife and four children. Instantly hues of canary yellow and ocean blue—reflecting off the plastic tarps that serve as the family’s roof and walls—fill the cramped space where they sleep. Mandal, a wiry 42-year-old with a thick black beard and a lazy eye, gestures with a long finger across his possessions: a torn page from a dated Hindu calendar, a set of tin plates, a wooden box used as a chair. He shuts down the solar unit that powers the light and unplugs it piece by piece, then carries it to a tent some 20 yards away, where he works as a chai wallah, selling sweet, milky tea to travelers on the desolate road in Madhotanda, a forested town near the northern border of India.

“My life is sad, but I have my mind to help me through it,” Mandal says, tapping the fraying cloth of his orange turban. “And this solar light helps me to keep my business open at night.”

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Holding a solar-powered lamp, Soni Suresh, 20, and Suresh Kashyap, 22, celebrate their marriage ceremony in Uttar Pradesh, where 20 million households lack electricity.

Mandal, whose home sits illegally on public land at the edge of a tiger reserve, is just a tiny cog in a surging new economic machine, one that involves hundreds of companies working aggressively to sell small solar-powered units to off-grid customers in developing nations to help fill their growing energy needs. Roughly 1.1 billion people in the world live without access to electricity, and close to a quarter of them are in India, where people like Mandal have been forced to rely on noxious kerosene and bulky, acid-leaking batteries.

Roughly 1.1 billion people in the world live without access to electricity, and close to a quarter of them are in India.

Mandal’s solar unit, which powers two LED lights and a fan, is energized by a 40-watt solar panel. Sun beats down on the panel, charging a small, orange power station for roughly ten hours at a time. Mandal leases the kit from SimpaNetworks. A for-profit company with a name derived from the notion of “simple payments,” Simpa offers subscription plans structured to fit the budgets of low-income consumers. Even so, the equivalent of roughly 35 cents a day is a massive expenditure for Mandal, who supports his family on a razor-thin budget of less than two dollars a day. Food costs money, as do schoolbooks, medicine, and tea. His middle son, who’s 15, fell ill late last year, and the hospital bill plunged the family into debt exceeding $4,000.

The following Blog is a fascinating story that has been kindly borrowed from National Geographic. The whole article can be found in full on the National geographic website. To red more, simply “CLICK HERE”

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