This week saw the Scotland Lights up Malawi campaign pitch up its banner and lights for this year’s ‘OnShore Wind’ and ‘Storage’ Scottish Renewable conferences, where wonderful new technologies, discussions and opportunities that will help shape, contribute and transition to a low carbon economy where showcased.

Wednesday brought particular focus to storage and the role it will play in working towards smarter and flexible energy system – an area with huge potential and progressive opportunities, ultimately helping Scotland edge towards the 50% target of the renewable electricity supplying our energy demand by 2030.

Alongside this very informative programme, Scotland Lights up Malawi showcased SolarAid’s own new technology, storage at the other end of the scale but equally capable of huge potential and progressive opportunities through its uptake – the ‘worlds most affordable solar lamp’.

This fantastic little lamps (image above) storage offers those without electricity a smart, flexible piece of technology, helping households shift away from the ordinarily relied upon, harmful, expensive and ineffective energy and light source – the kerosene lamp.

With 16million, in Malawi still without access to electricity and in poverty – this newest introduction of technology is the low carbon, affordable and storage capable device, ultimately offering people the ability to take the first step of many onto the energy ladder.

Life without storage capability– kerosene lamp (If they can afford this, otherwise it is candles, average 70p a week or grass):

Average cost per week – $1.50 for 1 litre (little predictability in price and scarce because it in on the black market)

Average use – bare minimum (sun goes down at 5pm)

Risks / limitations – black toxic fumes, fire risk, its cost and life stops when the light goes out.


Life with storage capability – SM100:

Cost– $5 per lamp and able to be bought through a pay as you go scheme.

Usage capability – 5 hours an evening (sun goes down at 5pm)

Offers – clean, sustainable, affordable, quality lighting, once purchased – disposable income and families benefitting from up to 5 hours worth of light a night for activities – e.g. additional hours for children to study.

There is no doubt that it is exciting times ahead for Storage in Scotland whether in industry, government, academia and consumers as the market creates, develops and grows from what we know it to be today.

And despite the small-scale storage of the SM100, its impact and ability is significantly important. With support it can be a grass roots starter, an opportunity giver and enabler for millions to be elevated from poverty.

If you would like to help – (email Ruth) we would be delighted to chat with you about how that might look.  Eg whether it an alternative gift donation (certificates available), a cake sale, fundraising event, a corporate donation and / or a useful contact.

Your support enables impact!

Also – please check out this wonderful news

Example amazing impact of a £5000 donation *life time of the light:cert1




SolarAid and SM100’s in the FT

Source Link for – Financial Times – Sunday 22nd May 2017…

UK designers produce world’s cheapest solar lamp
Hand-sized light that sells for $5 tempts homes across Africa away from kerosene

Children in Zambia, where the solar light is helping villagers without mains electricity © Patrick Bentley
A British start-up has helped a Chinese solar power giant provide cheap, clean power across Africa with a $5 light.

The SM100, which claims to be the cheapest solar light in the world, was designed by Manchester-based Inventid, formed by two graduates in 2012.

Some 600m people in African countries without electricity rely on kerosene storm lamps, which are expensive to run and produce smoke that is linked to respiratory diseases, cataracts and house fires.

The hand-sized SM100 can run for eight hours when fully charged and is twice as bright as kerosene. SolarAid, a charity, developed it in collaboration with Yingli, the solar panel manufacturer.

SolarAid’s trading subsidiary SunnyMoney has sold 1.9m other solar lights in Africa over the past decade but they retail for up to twice the price of the new light. After trialling 9,000 of the lights in three countries, the new light is now on sale.
Henry James and Bryn Morgan from strategic design consultancy Inventid
The co-founders of Inventid, Henry James and Bryn Morgan, met on a design degree at Leeds University and set up their company in 2012. Mr James first worked with SolarAid on a student project in 2007.

He said: “SolarAid calculated that selling the solar light at a level of $5 would bring the maximum benefit to the highest number of people, drastically reducing their monthly fuel bills and empowering them to lead better lives.”

The light is rectangular like a solar panel — rather than round — to reduce component costs. It has a stand so it can be used as a study light or hung in a room and straps so it can be used as a head torch.
A mechanic uses the rectangular light to fix a vehicle © Patrick Bentley
The light can be bought online for £10 in the UK, with extra profits going to SolarAid

The SM100 is an exemplar product for the new £83m Design Museum’s Design Ventura education programme. In March, the SM100 light won silver in the 2017 Design for Society and Design for Sustainability categories at the European Product Design Awards.

Building Blocks

I am not sure about you – but I am like a moth to a flame when it comes to a Mandela quote. Indeed, I even have one printed on my kitchen wall!

Nelson Mandela, was a great man and a leader who saw needs in our world and wasn’t afraid to play his part. Equipped with an abundance of compassion, determination and wisdom, his words are still speaking truth and accountability in our world today.

The thought-provoking and impactful words, “overcoming poverty is not an act of charity but an act of justice” from Mandela were the closing note to the Scotland Lights up Malawi celebration event held in February. Since that time of showcasing and thanksgiving, I have been reflecting on Phase 1 of the project. On its continuation and a number of other projects all addressing various shortcomings in our world, whether they be (gender) equality, injustice, health, schooling, energy or many other issues that affect people in varying degrees.

This reminds me not to downplay the fundamental building blocks in life that some people still very much lack. One such block is education. We all know about this, but, perhaps like me, you too sometimes lose sight of its significance and what it means for those without it. Lack of education can mean limitation and the consequences of that lack intertwine with so many things. We must not underestimate what education offers the future – when it is available.

Mandela said – “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

A powerful weapon yes, one that has an incredible potential and value in bringing about significant change for good. Education gives access, ability and opportunity. It can steer us to better understanding, it can finely tune our moral compass, and it can help us develop skills and abilities to meet any challenge. It can give us the tools to distinguish the very difference between right and wrong.

I think most of us agree that education can enable people, whatever their circumstances, with a greater chance of overcoming adversity, injustice, and poverty. With enablement comes responsibility. When that responsibility is recognised, ignorance is diminished and that transformation can provide freedom, hope and a future.

In Phase 1 of Scotland Lights up Malawi, we saw Keep Scotland Beautiful share climate justice education in our own society by empowering Scottish young people to understand and act on some of the many aspects of climate justice. Glasgow Caledonian University enabled us to provide greater impact with their research. And Scottish businesses provided financial support to enable SolarAid to share its practical knowledge, products and resources. Which in turn have helped thousands of Malawians start to overcome poverty by educating them about safe, clean energy that is accessible and affordable.

Education on the significance of something as simple as changing kerosene to a solar light unlocks a great transformation, offers freedom and the very first step onto the energy ladder.

I continue to be in the midst of an educational journey myself as we continue work here in Scotland to support SolarAid’s awareness efforts – a responsibility I am honored to have.

Considering the potential of this weapon –  what does education look like to you? At home, in your workplace, in Scotland, or further afield? What can you do to educate or to be educated so as to act justly?

Education, a powerful force for good!