I saw a tweet by Leilani Münter in my feed recently that was rather inspiring. Leilani shared that she loved the latest Light Empowered battery installation and that it showed the potential of recycling old EV batteries for microgrid applications. Her tweet included a video and she noted that the lithium-ion batteries from an electric bus in China are now enjoying their second life by helping to power a school with solar in Mugurameno, Western Zambia.
I love our latest @lightempowered battery installation showing the potential of recycling old EV batteries for microgrid applications. These lithium ion batteries from an electric bus in China now have a second life powering a school with solar in Mugurameno, Western Zambia. pic.twitter.com/eGs3On8uCs
— Leilani Münter (@LeilaniMunter) March 15, 2021
The second-life lithium-ion batteries from the bus in China were provided by a partnership with the startup BlueVolt Energy. In the video Leilani shared, you could see a group of happy children dancing and playing as the battery was being deployed. The video included a quote from McKinsey & Company: “Used EV batteries can perform sufficiently to serve less demanding applications such as stationary energy storage services.”
The video also included an interview with one of the teachers. “It has really helped me. I first came here in 2015. It was to store fresh food, and after the power came, it has helped us very much. We are able to store fresh food. And the lighting! It has really helped us a lot in that area and we are grateful.”
The instructor also described how it helped the students. “We have computer studies at the school, which requires computers. So it has really helped the school children because they are able to practice using the power that the microgrid is supplying to the school and it really helps.”
840 Million People Live Without Access To Electricity
I remember growing up very poor. Sometimes we wouldn’t have electricity in the summer, and here in Louisiana, that can be deadly. I’d always spend the hottest parts of the day at the library while my mother was at work and then come home and have cold showers — if we had water. Sometimes, it’s like that here in America — in the poorest parts of the country where some families have to choose between rent, food, and electricity or water. Pick two.
So, I can understand just how empowering having electricity is. It provides light, cool air, a way to cook if you don’t have a gas stove — it’s an essential necessity in much of the modern world, but many, many places don’t have access to electricity.
Empowered By Light noted that 840 million people live without access to electricity and 87% live in rural areas. Empowered by Light started its work in Zambia back in 2011 by bringing light and solar power to some of the country’s most remote schools. It has helped other communities in Africa, Asia, and the Americas by enabling them to skip fossil fuels altogether and use clean energy instead. The charity has installed solar panels that enable rangers in remote stations to protect endangered wildlife, has helped women start solar businesses, has provided light so that school children can study at night, and is focused on empowering communities to build healthier, sustainable, and more prosperous futures. This is beautiful.