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Published on April 12th, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan

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SolarAid Has Delivered 1.5 Million Solar Lights In Africa (Video Interview)

April 12th, 2015 by  


When you think of solar aid in Africa, you very likely think of… SolarAid. The UK nonprofit has been bringing solar power and efficient lighting to homes in Africa for several years, and it just recently delivered its 1.5 millionth solar light (improving the lives of >6 million people, and saving them hundreds of millions of dollars — in total, not each 😉 ).

SolarAid was a 2014 and 2015 Zayed Future Energy Prize finalist, and I had the opportunity to interview Chief Fundraiser Richard Turner during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week*. Learn more about the organization, its impact, and its goals in the following video.

*Full Disclosure: Masdar covered my trip to Abu Dhabi for the Zayed Future Energy Prize and Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in 2014 and 2015, and I do some contract work for the clean energy corporation.





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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.



  • Great story of success. Thanks, Zach…and thanks for editing it to keep the video short.

    • Thanks. I often do these in one take, but good points kept coming up after switching off the camera, so I ended up with a few videos I needed to stitch together. 😀 Love this guy & this organization. Hope to have a fun follow-up next year.

  • Bob_Wallace

    I wonder if a better solution might be solar panels feeding battery chargers?

    By moving to rechargeable AAAs people could use a single panel/charger system for a variety of things. Run a desk lamp LED or a headlight for when they need to go outside or even for tasks like cooking. Power a small radio.

    Spare batteries could be acquired over time, allowing people to have extra batteries during times when there was less sunshine. Batteries and devices would be ‘separated’ so if one part fails the entire system is not a throwaway.

  • timbuck93

    Most people don’t give a rats ass, but these light better be warm white so that when they are used at night, they don’t disrupt sleep so much, it’s a big deal, but very few people care about it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Tim, some people now live with this sort of light and sleep in rooms full of kerosene fumes….

    • Philip W

      You can’t possibly be serious?
      Those are extremely poor people. They have other problems than the temperature of their lighting.

      • timbuck93

        OK, that’s a great point, and also they probably won’t have a lot of them, or get bright either.

        Light output though, that flame is (if it didn’t have harmful fumes) much more relaxing at night.

        I guess they could just get LED candles though.

  • Philip W

    Very nice!

    But I still think a light like this would be even better, since it doesn’t need any batteries to function at night. http://gravitylight.org/

    • Offgridman

      The gravity light is great, especially with what they have been doing with adding multiple fixtures and phone charging. But it still needs to be reset (the weight lifted) every half hour or so, quick check of the link showed 25 minutes.
      While the solar powered lights that the Litre of Light organization featured in yesterday’s piece, teach people how to make themselves, are good for the whole night.
      Just not sure that it is possible to say that either one is better, as there are positive and negative aspects to either one.
      Maybe it will be best to support a variety of options, thinking that anything that helps to get the world’s less advantaged away from having to continually repurchase fuel for their light source as a good thing.

      • Good points. 😀

        • Offgridman

          Well I think that Obama had a good idea with his “all of the above” solution, with the disclaimer that it is necessary to be discriminating about what’s included in the all.
          People are people, and tend to get hyped up over an idea, but when we are looking at a problem that encompasses a variety of conditions, having a variety of solutions can only help to resolve the issue sooner.

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