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How solar lights help pave the way towards an illuminated future

Aussie charity SolarBuddy wants to give six million solar lights to children living in energy poverty by 2030.

The bold initiative aligns with 17 Sustainable development goals curated by the United Nations, in particular, “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” by 2030.

There are four spheres of life impacted by energy poverty.

SolarBuddy titles these ‘four pillars of energy’ as education, health, economic standing, and environmental longevity.

SolarBuddy’s solution to sustaining the pillars is a renewable energy powered light.

Chief Executive Officer of SolarBuddy, Mr Simon Doble created the light in 2015 and is continuously inspired by the impact of illumination.

He reflects on a poignant experience at a Somalian refugee camp, after bringing a woman and her children out of poverty-stricken darkness.

“She had seven children and had gone through the horrors of civil war and persecution to get to where she was…,” he said.

“Up until that moment of me installing a renewable energy source, she still had to venture out of the refugee camp and back into a war zone to get fuel and other resources for her family.

When I turned the light on for the first time, she held my hand in gratitude… that will never leave me.”

This light is called the ‘Junior Buddy,’ designed for children to operate easily. PHOTO: Instagram / @solar_buddy

Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Mr Fatih Birol said in an interview with Time Magazine that “solar energy is going to play a huge role in improving energy access… it’s one of the best ways to meet the challenges off the grid.”

Mr Doble found that refugee sites are remote and lack a direct power source, thus solar is the common-sense approach to battling energy poverty.

To achieve the six million vision, Solar Buddy has created education and corporate engagement programs that allow members of the community to contribute to eradicating energy poverty.

The program combines SolarBuddy education with curriculum-based activities that allow students to understand the problem and contribute to the solution.

Each student is taught to put together their own solar light and accompany the piece with a personalised letter that will reach a child in need and which Mr Doble calls the ‘icing on the cake.’

The issue of energy poverty reached global attention in 2010, at the World Economic Forum where it was defined as a lack of access to sustainable modern energy services and products that are affordable, safe, and environmentally sound.

SolarBuddy has outlined the educational benefits of solar lights for students in energy impoverished regions, like the ability to study for 78 per cent longer and feel an overall sense of safety.

“When turning the light on, there is a direct intuition that you are going to be safer,” Mr Doble said.

A report by Our World Data found that 940 million people did not have access to electricity in 2020, meaning 13 per cent of the world continue to live without safe and reliable lighting.   

To conquer energy poverty and contribute to the six million movement, SolarBuddy calls for collaboration and partnership.

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Ryan Fritz

Ryan Fritz started The Advocate in 2014 to provide not-for-profits and charities with another media platform to tell their worthwhile hard news stories and opinion pieces effortlessly. In 2020, Ryan formed a team of volunteer journalists to help spread even more high-quality stories from the third sector. He also has over 10 years of experience as a media and communications professional for not-for-profits and charities.

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