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Why IKEA Should Design Solar Lamps for the Developing World

Solar Lamps green
Here’s an idea that makes sense for carbon-footprint reductions: solar powered lighting that doesn’t look like it’s intended merely to light your way down a garden path.

IKEA has designed some gorgeous solar powered lamps that you could actually charge up during the days in a sunny window and then eat dinner under or read a novel by, later that evening.

But that’s just you, in the developed world.

This idea could be literally world-changing if it was made available further than just for the typical hip, urban IKEA customer in developed nations, and instead was introduced for the third world.

Because this night lighting costs under $20 and uses no fuel.

For the last couple of billion of us on this planet who have no electricity at all, this is a fossil-fuel-free way to provide light at night. It could be routine to string up solar lights in the sun to charge them, and bring them in at night.

As developing nations add energy, they default to fossil fuels which can cost them $100 a year. Families in rural villages in India or China fire up a kerosene lamp so their kids can do homework after sundown. And it’s not just their kids soaking up those nasty fumes.  As more and more families in developing nations can afford kerosene or other dirty fossil fuels for light or heat, they add a surprising amount to the world’s greenhouse gases; destroying the habitability of our planet for all of our kids.

Lighting up the third world without using fossil fuels is a challenge that IKEA’s designers are certainly up to, with those innovative design skills. Solar lamps are already being designed to fill that need, but they are not going to be successful if they are poorly designed for the task.
Poorly Designed Solar Lamp green
Last June, IKEA had a “buy one donate one free” program to send a sturdy kids solar desk lamp to Pakistani refugee camps.

At the international summit at Copenhagen, one idea that was suggested by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton was to set up a $100 billion fund to help the developing world add electricity without defaulting to fossil fuels. This fund is a huge opportunity for businesses like IKEA to do well by doing good.

IKEA could do much more along these lines, and well-thought-out designs like these portable hanging solar lamps are a big part of that.

Source: Inhabitat
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