Plan to minimize pollution by clean lighting products in the offing

LABD1_resizedLighting Global has started to review the environmental and waste impacts of off-grid lighting products – a work that will result in a Strategic Product Life-cycle Management Plan next June.

Two firms, Talent with Energy Pty Ltd and Lighting Management Consultants (LMC), have been contracted to steer and facilitate this process, which begun with three months of background research that was concluded in November.

They will identify the type and nature of hazardous and non-hazardous waste streams generated by solar off-grid lighting products, develop methods for minimizing and handling waste, as well as appropriate supply chain interventions for Africa and Asia.

“A key measure of success for modern, off-grid lighting products is the implementation of a comprehensive life-cycle product management infrastructure, minimizing end-of-life waste management issues through improved product design, implementation of national product stewardship schemes and in-country capacity building in the area of waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) management infrastructures,” LMC’s Bryan King told industry stakeholders at the 3rd International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Trade Fair.

The firms are now undertaking in-country stakeholder consultations until March next year, when a first draft of the strategic plan is expected. The draft plan will be presented and discussed at international workshops in April and May 2013, yielding the final strategy in June.

Manufacturers at the conference expressed interest in “eco-design” principles that they should consider when working out their product life-cycle impacts.

Solar lamp manufacturers were also keen on which eco-design principles to adopt when conceptualizing product design, value delivery, packaging, transportation and operation in order to minimize waste production at the beginning of the product life cycle.

“The integration of eco-design principles into product performance standards could be a future evolution of this line of thought,” says Mr King.

Conference participants stressed that a broad multi-sectoral approach was required in the development of a cohesive Product Life-cycle Strategy for the off-grid lighting sector.

LuminaNET: Join the new global off-grid knowledge sharing network

The Lumina Project in November launched LuminaNET, a global social network for the off-grid lighting community to share knowledge, discuss emerging technologies and business models and to draw on each other’s expertise to solve problems related to their work in clean energy.

LuminaNET has already attracted more than 150 members from 28 countries. Members include field technicians, manufacturers and distributors of clean lighting products, investors, researchers, and non-governmental organizations and foundations.

The off-grid online network allows members to post quick notes, photos and videos, as well as to blog. It also features a calendar of events.
Additionally, every member has their own homepage, which consolidates their content and comments.

Recent discussions include challenges and insights on “last mile” product distribution, crowd-funding of startup companies, carbon credits and novel ways of gathering feedback on off-grid lighting products from end users.

The Lumina Project, an initiative of the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, provides industry, consumers, and policymakers with timely information and analysis on off-grid lighting solutions for developing countries.

Solux Vision: From Assembly to Full Production within Africa

Solux_Assembly_Workshop_resizedGerman solar lantern developer Solux Service GmbH has helped set up more than 60 solar lantern assembly workshops worldwide, most of them in Africa since 1996 in a drive to transfer knowhow and build the continent’s capacity to manufacture clean modern lights locally.

Solux Service GmbH opened its most recent assembly workshops earlier this year in Burkina Faso and Togo; this was Togo’s second solar lamp assembly workshop, the first having been operative since 2006.

The company, which is an Associate Member of the Lighting Africa program, plans to extend this technology transfer effort further to Senegal, where a school for solar technicians will be constructed starting December.

Solux expects to have its new lanterns assembly workshop up and running by April 2013.

Solux, which began designing portable solar lamps for off-grid communities in 1992, has two products which have passed the rigorous Lighting Global quality tests; the Solux LED-50 and the Solux LED 105.

“Since that time (1996) the major objective was to get solar lamps to off-grid people in low income countries. And working towards a more sustainable society! Solux was trying for a long time to get these lamps manufactured locally,” says Franz Kies, a Director on the Solux e.V Board.

But the desire to set up manufacturing plants in countries across Africa encountered “almost insurmountable problems” related to absence of a supply chain for lamp components and the high capital investments requirements.

The company thus resorted to local assembly as the first step in the transfer of technology and technical knowhow, and in anticipation of full scale production of lanterns in Africa in future.

“So, in 1996 the first Kenyan was trained and a workshop was set up with 100 kits for local assembly as a start. Sixteen years later the workshop still exists, and has assembled thousands of solar lamps, and even supplies spare parts for Solux lamps in use in Kenya,” says Mr Kies proudly.

From a one-man show this workshop has grown into a small enterprise with a whole range of solar powered products, employing 14 people, in yet another innovative business model typical of the off-grid lighting sector.

Mr Kies sees the most important step in setting up a new workshop as being extensive training for assembly staff and entrepreneurs. Solux helps to organize two weeks of initial training through a joint venture of German Government and industry.

“In this way know-how is transferred to the partner country. New technology including the working of electronic components, LED-lighting and solar energy is explained and manual skills are taught and honed. As a welcome side effect an improved quality consciousness is emerging and increased confidence in one’s capabilities can be observed,” he says.

Whoever takes part in this assembly training is thereafter capable of working on their own. He says this has proved to be an especially empowering experience for women, creating new skills and opening job opportunities.

In the future, Solux Service GmbH is hopeful that it will be possible to produce parts for solar lamp kits locally within Africa, to the point that full local production will be possible.

d.light Celebrates Reaching 10 million People with Solar Lighting

AB0_ResizedAmerican solar lantern manufacturer d.light design celebrated its fifth year in the off-grid lighting business with an announcement that its products have reached 10 million people worldwide.

A quarter of these are school-aged children who no longer have to rely on the low quality lighting from hazardous kerosene lanterns or candles.
d.light aims to positively transform the lives of at least 100 million people worldwide by 2020 with its solar lamps.

“The vision for d.light from the very beginning was to make a huge impact on individual lives on a global scale,” said co-founder Sam Goldman on the eve of the Third Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Trade Fair held in Dakar this November.

He said the company has a product development agenda focused on continuous innovation in order to enable more people higher up the value chain access clean, reliable energy products.

d.light’s Chairman and CEO Donn Tice said: “This will not be our last milestone . . . just one high point reached on our goal to bring modern light and power to 100 million people worldwide.”

“We are thrilled at this achievement,” added the company’s President Ned Tozun; “But we also realize that our work is just beginning. There are still over a billion people without electricity, and we want all of them to enjoy the benefits of clean, safe and bright light.”

The company says its customers have cumulatively saved over USD$135 million in energy-related expenses. This translates to more productive hours, measured at over 3 billion hours, which directly translates into increased income for education, health, and leisure.

d.light is financed by social enterprise funds Omidyar Network, Acumen Fund and Gray Matters Capital; and venture capital firms Nexus India Capital, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Garage Technology Ventures, and the Mahindra Group.

Azuri Technologies recognized for global sustainability role

simon_receives_Sustaina_Award_resizedSolar lantern manufacturer and distributor Azuri Technologies is the overall winner of the Sustainia Award, a new global award that honors ideas, solutions or technologies that are expected to significantly contribute towards a sustainable future.

Azuri was granted use of “Nobel Sustainability supported Clean Tech Company 2012” in its marketing and communication materials.

The company was recognized for its Indigo Solar light which combines lighting and mobile phone charging with a pay-as-you-go energy leasing service that enables consumers to purchase their solar lanterns at roughly their daily cost of kerosene.

Consumers make their payments using top-up scratch cards which also recharge the lanterns. According to the company, 6,000 families in Kenya, Malawi, Zambia and South Sudan have bought and are using this solar lantern.

“Congratulations to the Sustania Award winner for being a true action hero and for proving to the skeptics and the naysayers that solutions already exist to meet the challenges our earth’s planet is facing,” said former US Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“This award is about more than making the world more sustainable; it is also about improving the communities where we live. The Sustania Award is changing the focus of the climate change debate toward tangible solutions that can make a real difference,” he added.

Sustainia is an alliance of organizations and companies working to create sustainable growth by identifying and elevating existing sustainable solutions, and mature markets for sustainable products and services.

“It is a great honor for Azuri to be recognized by the Nobel Sustainability Trust. Azuri’s Indigo pay-as-you-go solar aims to bring appropriate power at scale to emerging markets and we look forward to working with the Nobel Sustainability Trust and other Sustainia partners to bring this ambition to fruition,” said Azuri CEO, Simon Bransfield-Garth when receiving the award in October.

Azuri’s Indigo pay-as-you-go solar light is among modern solar lanterns that have in recent months passed rigorous Lighting Global quality testing in recent months.

Gustaf Nobel, Chair of the Nobel Sustainability Trust, one of the Sustania partners said: “Azuri’s Indigo solar solution for off-grid residents in the developing world corresponds perfectly with NST’s vision where we envisage a world in which alternative, renewable and sustainable energy sources will be readily accessible to all members of society and avoiding environmental threats. We congratulate Azuri for their achievements and winning the Sustainia award 2012 and look forward to follow their future development.”

Azuri was also recognized as a ‘Technology Pioneer 2013’ by the World Economic Forum in August. The company was among 23 technology start-ups from around the world that are seen as poised to make a positive impact on business and society.

‘Technology Pioneers’ that have developed marketable life-changing technology include Google, Twitter, DropBox, and Mozilla.

ToughStuff launches million dollar fund to accelerate solar uptake

AB0_resized1ToughStuff has launched a 1 million dollar Solar Distribution Innovation Facility (SDIF), co-funded by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), to accelerate adoption of solar energy in Eastern Africa.

The facility will aim to provide a sustainable financing mechanism for distributors, wholesalers and retailers enabling them to better stock up and to sell ToughStuff solar lighting products in the region.

According to Toughstuff, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often cite lack of working capital as a bottleneck to purchasing solar lighting products in meaningful quantities, which frustrates distributors’ own business objectives, and consumers.

The Solar Distribution Innovation Facility (SDIF) will address these financing bottlenecks, which should improve local business capability and the affordability of solar lamps.

The Facility will be a revolving capital fund, providing eligible organizations with credit, loans, and guarantees. The facility seeks to finance organizations (SMEs, NGOs, CBOs, and MFIs) with credible business modes for scaled distribution of ToughStuff products.

Andrew Tanswell, CEO and co-Founder of ToughStuff says: “Being able to provide working capital support for entrepreneurial businesses in Africa is a very positive and exciting step forwards. If we can work with investors to build the capacity of this fund, then the social and environmental impact will be leveraged even further.”

Poor energy access is one of the key factors stifling development in East Africa. It compels communities without electricity to spend up to 25% of their income on increasingly expensive and dangerous kerosene, says Mr Tanswell.

Barefoot Power’s Lighting Project Registered for Carbon Finance

LABD1_0535_resizedAs part of its mission to provide 10 million people with clean affordable lighting by 2015, Barefoot Power has successfully registered its Program of Activities under the UN Clean Development Mechanism.

This will allow Barefoot Power to turn the ‘kerosene savings’ achieved by using its solar lanterns into carbon credits.

“Carbon finance and carbon credits have been mentioned with regards to solar lighting projects for a long time, but it has historically been too complicated, costly and inefficient to capture for companies like Barefoot Power who distribute an extensive product line over many continents,” says Andrew Barson, Product Manager at the company.

The solar lantern manufacturer and distributor can then sell accrued carbon credits on the carbon market realizing revenue and use it to advance its activities towards its clean energy goal.

Barefoot Power envisions using revenues generated from trading its carbon credits to improve on the affordability and quality of its solar lighting products, and after sales service.

“Using the carbon project Barefoot Power can account for the greenhouse gas savings its products make and then use that revenue to ensure our products and services are accessible in the areas they are needed most,” says Barson.

Quality affordable solar lighting positively impacts education, health, income generation and reduced expenditure on kerosene such that carbon credits are so much more than just a saving in greenhouse gas emissions.

The project is the first Program of Activities to be registered under the Clean Development Mechanism where replacement of kerosene with solar lighting has been recognized for reducing climate change.

Computations by Lighting Africa show that adoption of solar lighting by about 4m people in Africa in the past three years has averted 78,000 tons of climate altering green house gases, the equivalent of removing 15,000 vehicles from the road.

Barefoot Power will now expand its activities into 22 countries where the company is currently marketing its range of solar products.
For more information on projects under consideration for CDM financing, visit our 2012 conference website www.lightingafrica.org/2012conference to see the UNFCCC presentation.

You can also find an article ‘From Carbon to Light’ on a new framework of estimating green house gas reductions or savings as a result of adoption of clean off-grid lighting products on LuminaNet http://light.lbl.gov/light.html.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has also recently published the latest version of the CDM Methodology Booklet.

Kenya: New Market Analysis Affirms Kerosene Importance in Lighting Homes

Kenya_New_Market_Analysis_resizedLighting Global has published a second Market Intelligence Note focused on the Kenya Household Fuel Use.

This market analysis derives from the 2005/06 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey on the expenditure for lighting fuels and the adoption of solar home systems among Kenyan households.

It is aimed at practitioners, policy-makers, and academics interested in the potential for and use of clean alternative lighting technologies such as solar-powered lamps, to displace the widely used yet economically and environmentally expensive lighting fuels like kerosene and firewood.

The Note affirms that kerosene is the single most important lighting fuel used in Kenya. Nearly three quarters of all Kenyan households stated that their main lighting fuel was kerosene, followed by electricity and collected firewood.

A key finding is that median expenditure on kerosene by Kenyan households that used kerosene for lighting was 2% of total income.

Multinationals make an entry into African off-grid lighting market

The phenomenal growth of sales of portable lighting products in Africa has caught the attention of multinationals such as TOTAL, Philips and Schneider Electric, and drawn them into a market that has been largely dominated by social entrepreneurs.

Oil producer and marketer TOTAL, which boasts an extensive distribution network with 3,500 retail service stations in 50 countries in Africa, aims to sell one million quality solar lanterns to low income households by 2015.

The company, which sells d.light, Greenlight Planet, and Schneider Electric solar lanterns, told delegates at the Third International Off-grid Lighting Conference and Trade Fair in Dakar, that it had sold 96,000 lanterns since March 2011 through its service stations, and an additional 15,000 lamps through its Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) outlets, and solar entrepreneurs the company is nurturing.

TOTAL is implementing a Total Access to Solar (TATS) program in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Senegal, with plans to start soon in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda.

The entrance of such big players is widely seen as a welcome sign which will increase access to clean energy.
“Great to see!” says Derek Steel, Managing Director, Sunlite Solar. “Any entrant that puts money into marketing and awareness will help everyone in the industry.”

Greenlight Planet, whose lanterns are already sold through the Total product distribution network, is also upbeat about the entry of big players in the market.

“We welcome the competition from large multinationals, as it will take a variety of products and companies to solve the problem. As of now, however, we have not seen any multinational gain significant penetration in the rural markets, so we have not been affected by their presence.

If they get better penetration, it just means more competition for the social enterprises. Still, it is a very large market, so I think there is space for many more players,” says Sloane Holzman, Nuru Energy’s Country Director, Kenya. Nuru Energy manufactures a unique dynamo-powered lamp.

press_conference in_DakarDavid Small, d.light’s Managing Director for Africa says: “We welcome the introduction of large multinationals and believe that their involvement will only assist in firstly, the awareness of (modern clean lighting products) which is almost zero in most countries, and secondly, in accelerating the availability of much needed solar generated light to those who most need it. This gives an opportunity for social enterprises such as ourselves to work with multinationals.”

Small argues the solar lighting market can still accommodate more players given penetration of solar lanterns in Africa is still less than 3%.
John Keane, Managing Director of SunnyMoney, the social enterprise of fast growing solar lights distributor, SolarAid adds: “Our goal is to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by the end of this decade. We believe the only way this will be achieved is if there are more and more powerful companies and governments operating in a vibrant solar market.

As more actors enter the market, it is probably inevitable that some pioneering companies will be overtaken or bought out – but ultimately, the market will succeed, which is good news for the end user.”

SunnyMoney, which has sold over 170,000 solar lights since April, is looking to partner and work with companies, governments and NGOs geared towards mass distribution of solar lights across Africa.

A few of the social enterprises are however apprehensive because they will be up against larger players who are better able to access capital cheaper, which they see as “a massively unfair advantage”. Access to finance is an issue they would like urgently addressed to level the playing field.

“The entry of big players into the market is a welcome incoming tide that will lift all the boats,” says Lighting Africa Program Manager Itotia Njagi. “Multinationals’ activities bode well for the overall market development; they have proven experience in creating brands, as well as markets.”

Lighting Africa’s Consumer Education Campaign wins Kenyan Marketing Award

msk trophy3Lighting Africa’s Songa Mbele na Solar (get ahead with solar) consumer education campaign has won the Marketing Society of Kenya’s best experiential campaign award in the NGO/Government category.

The award recognizes marketing creativity, innovation and utilization of marketing best practice. In its evaluation, the Marketing Society of Kenya took into consideration the quality of materials and activities undertaken, the strategy, execution, creativity and results of the campaign, and its usefulness to the target audience.

Lighting Africa has been running a consumer education campaign in Kenya since 2010 as part of its efforts to catalyze markets for modern off-grid lighting products intended to replace the hazardous, polluting kerosene as a lighting source in Kenya.

Kerosene is the single most important lighting fuel used in Kenya. About 75% of all Kenyan households interviewed during the 2005/06 Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey stated that their main lighting fuel was kerosene, followed by electricity and then collected firewood.

The switch from kerosene to cleaner, safer lighting options like solar and dynamo-charged lighting systems requires information and education on how new lighting products operate, where they can be found and their costs and benefits among the targeted consumers, who are primarily rural communities not connected to the electricity grid.

“Good products alone cannot achieve the desired behavioral change: it must also be fostered through consumer awareness and education,” says Nana Asamoah Manu, Lighting Africa’s program manager in Kenya.

The campaign runs a variety of activities including road shows and community forums, and engages with religious groups, women groups and Savings and Credit Cooperative organizations to explain the health, cost and environmental benefits of modern solar-powered lights over kerosene.

It also educates consumers on how to distinguish between sub-standard and quality-assured solar lamps. These messages are reinforced through interviews on local vernacular radio shows.

To date, Songa Mbele na Solar campaign has run over 1,100 community forums and 190 road shows all over Kenya reaching over 260,000 people in rural areas.

Typically, a consumer education day entails two forums, with community groups of 20-30 people, for an hour of skits, songs, instruction, question and answer sessions, and experimentation with products.

In the evening, tied to market days, the Lighting Africa team organizes a road show, which attracts large crowds, usually of about 500 people. A truck stationed at a vantage point like the centre or market square plays loud music and attracts crowds for 3-4 hours of edutainment. This kind of face to face engagement with consumers is referred to as experiential marketing.

Feedback from these sessions indicates that on average over 90% of participants increase their knowledge on clean solar lighting products, and that they would like to switch to them.

Lighting Africa’s consumer education campaign is informed by solid market research: its 2010 market report titled Solar Lighting for the Base of the Pyramid – Overview of an Emerging Market showed that lack of consumer awareness about alternatives to kerosene lighting was the main barrier to market growth for clean off-grid lighting products.

The report also revealed that for consumers without access to electricity, clean lighting products are more than a commodity; the lamps are also aspirational status-enhancing products. This informed our campaign slogan “Songa Mbele na Solar”, or get ahead with solar.

The campaign is implemented by EXP Kenya, a leading agency in experiential campaigns. The company’s ability to receive and incorporate feedback from Lighting Africa, its partners and consumers has been critical to the campaign’s success.