Archive for September, 2010

Light Up the World

Today, I had the privilege of meeting  Professor Dave Irvine-Halliday of the University of Calgary.  Dave is the visionary and driving force behind a truly remarkable organization, Light Up The World.  LUTW is developing an inexpensive, solar powered lighting system to replace the ubiquitous kerosene lamps used by poor people in the developing world. He gave a talk today as part of the Materials Science & Engineering seminar series where he made a terrific case for how this simple, effective and reliable technology could change the world for billions of the world’s poor.  The most amazing part of the story (I think) was the economic case.  At about $100/unit, these devices might seem out of reach for poor people, until you realize that many of these families pay that much (often more) each year for kerosene.  With the correct micro-lending system and modest government support, these devices pay for themselves in the first year.

This comes just a few weeks after our campus was graced by William Kamkwamba, author of the Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. I had the opportunity to spend some time with this remarkable young man and came away feeling humbled.

THe common theme in both stories is that the amount of energy it takes to make a difference in the developing world is tiny compared to what we use every day.  The 10 Watt solar panel in LUTW systems captures about 40 watt-hours of useful energy in a day.  The typical home in Idaho uses about 30,000 watt-hours in a day.


September 10, 2010 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

September 2010
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