Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Let there be light off the grid
Dissigno works to build businesses with nonprofit groups and communities in Haiti, India, and Tanzania. In Haiti, the company set up a system so that people can rent portable LED lights, which are recharged by plugging into a generator powered by a bicycle-like device, for $2 per month. Kerosene lamp refills, by contrast, cost around $3.50 per month. Six hours of pedaling charges the 12-volt battery. Each 1.5-watt LED light running several hours every night should last a month.
Backed by World Bank contest funding, San Francisco-based Dissigno aims to set up rentals for up to 6,000 lights recharged by 20 pedal-powered, community generators in Karagwe, Tanzania. The generators are handmade in Nepal and can be fixed with a flathead screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench. The simple maintenance is an advantage over photovoltaics, said co-founder Gary Zieff, although he's considering adding a solar panel to supplement the electrical demands of the generator.
He also hopes to set up a system whereby villagers would have to set up a savings account at a community bank in order to rent the lights.
Zieff is exploring the potential for setting up utility-size solar photovoltaics up to the level of hundreds of kilowatts for communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
Special Thanks to CNet