Poor quality and irregular lighting blights lives. When that light comes from kerosene wick lamps, it not only strains eyes, but produces dangerous fumes and the risk of fire. Yet in India 100 million homes use just this form of lighting.
Solar lighting is an obvious solution. What Noble Energy Solar Technologies (NEST) achieved was to develop a solar lantern which is small and practical and yet which is also cost-effective for its users. Costing about US$35 each, the lanterns are self-funding in one to two years depending on the kerosene saved.
There is no subsidy involved. Indeed NEST is a private company using a network of independent dealers who maintain the lamps and organise the financing. This is a model of commercial enterprise delivering sustainable, environmental benefits.
By 2009 lanterns were in use in 100,000 homes in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, benefitting over 400,000 people. Over 20,000 tonnes/year CO2 is being saved by the reduction in the use of kerosene. The benefits are legion. As one user says, they can now use the solar lanterns to deter the pigs that used to eat their crops. It seems, pigs apart, everyone is happy.