A cheap Australian-designed solar light is changing lives in developing nations, including 80,000 refugees in Pakistan still struggling to rebuild after the country suffered devastating floods a year ago.
As we’ve reported before, the adverse effects caused by the estimated one billion people living off the grid in poor countries who use kerosene lamps for lighting often outweigh their benefits.
Kerosene can account for a third of a family’s monthly income and toxic fumes from the lamps, which are often included in aid packages, can cause a number of illnesses. Soot and carbon dioxide created when burning kerosene also adds to the world’s carbon emission woes.
Recognising the problem, Melbourne inventor Shane Thatcher founded illumination Solar in 2010, and the Mandarin Ultra solar light was born.
The Mandarin Ultra can provide up to four times more light than a kerosene lamp from 12 super-bright LEDs, illuminating a room for up to eight hours on a full charge, which is sourced by exposing the Ultra’s back solar panel to sunlight for six hours or more.
At a cost of less than $10 per unit, the Mandarin Ultra is touted to be the cheapest, quality solar light in the world. It costs a fraction of competing designs because it was designed with the income level of the target customer and the generation of UN accredited carbon credits in mind.
"What makes the lights affordable is the generation of carbon credits as the lights are sold and used. We worked with our alliance partner, CarbonSoft (a Standard Bank joint venture) on the complex accreditation program," says Liz Aitken, illumination’s CFO.
The governments of Britain, the USA, Japan and the EU have all bought the new lights and supplied them to refugees via the International Organisation for Migration.
"We created this light for the billion people who live off the grid and survive on less than a dollar a day. Buying fuel for a kerosene lamp can take a third of their income, the kerosene fumes are polluting, and the lanterns often start fires," Thatcher says.