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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Project helps communities turn plastic bottles into solar powered lights

Litre of Light won the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015 and his since been training communities to make their own solar powered lights

Dr Nawal Al Hosany, director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, said Litre of Light was an example of how the Zayed Future Energy Prize helps bring innovations to communities. Pawan Singh / The National
Dr Nawal Al Hosany, director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, said Litre of Light was an example of how the Zayed Future Energy Prize helps bring innovations to communities. Pawan Singh / The National

Litre of Light is a project turning plastic bottles into solar powered lights and trains communities to look after their own supply network by servicing and installing the devices.

It won the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015.

Portable lights have since been developed to become street lights, and are changing communities around the world in more than 30 countries.

“When people tell you this product can change the world, you forget just how big an area that is,” said executive director Illac Diaz, who came up with the idea.

“The idea is to not make this temporary, but a permanent solution.

“60 per cent of the UN costs to bring solar lights to communities is taken up by logistics, shipping these lights from India and China.

“By giving rural communities the skills to make their own solar lights from plastic bottles, it is taking away those costs at a grass roots level.”

Women co-operatives are working around the world in rural communities to develop these lights and help communities become self-sufficient.

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Litre of Light is reducing logistic costs by creating outlets in marketplaces so families can collect components to build lights at home.

“We never manufacture the lights themselves, just provide the components,” said Mr Diaz, whose company is based in the Philippines.

“This is important so people can fix and scale the lights in a village level if things go wrong.

“People are encouraged to look after the solar light supply in their own community. The beauty of this product is that they can be built and maintained by the villagers themselves.”

Training in how to create a solar light from a plastic bottle takes just 30 minutes. It is a skilled technology that converts solar lights into LED lights to illuminate streets in areas cut off from the national grid.

“The Litre of Light is an example of how important this prize is to help bring these innovations to communities to make a difference to people’s lives,” said Dr Nawal Al Hosany, director of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.

“From the submissions we receive every year and the companies implementing them is the focus towards helping rural areas by providing off grid solutions.

“The ideas have to be suited to the requirements of a community. Innovators need to be able to understand the context of who they are designing for.

“We have seen these solar designs for street lights and they are very successful.

“The Litre of Light has proved very successful around the world, particularly in the Favelas in Brazil where security is an everyday issue.

“Light provided off grid by these innovations is bringing safety to these vulnerable communities.”

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