Currently, about 1.3 billion people live without access to electricity worldwide. Homes in these regions commonly use kerosene lamps for lighting, but the fire and smoke from these lamps pose serious fire and health risks. Panasonic solar lanterns can be used as lighting at night, thanks to the battery, which stores energy generated by sunlight during the daytime. The lanterns also reduce the inherent danger of fire from kerosene lamps, as well as health hazards from smoke, and CO2 emissions. Solar lanterns are expected to solve some of the challenges faced by areas that have no access to electricity.
The “100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project” utilizes Panasonic’s technologies and products to help solve social challenges in emerging and developing countries that have poor electrical power conditions, by making donations to non-profit/non-governmental, humanitarian, and international organizations. For Asia, Panasonic expanded its list of recipient countries this fiscal year to include Malaysia, in addition to Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, India and the Philippines, which previously received lanterns.
Panasonic plans to continue working on the “100 Thousand Solar Lanterns Project” as part of its efforts to pursue “A Better Life, A Better World” and to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Panasonic donated 110 solar lanterns and shades to the village of Sone, in West Timor, Indonesia, which has no access to electricity. The lanterns featured shades bearing animal designs that were submitted to an international design campaign called “Cut Out the Darkness.” Villagers enjoyed a special moment when all the lights were turned on at once, making a “zoo of light” appeared before everyone’s eyes.
In hopes of getting more people to know about the challenges faced by people who live without access to electricity, the “Cut Out the Darkness” project invites people to participate by personally designing shades for the lanterns. Selected designs are then turned into actual shades and donated together with solar lanterns to homes and schools in areas without electricity. For the first round, 111 designed shades and solar lanterns were donated to Sumba Island in Indonesia in March 2014.
For the second round, Panasonic called for design submissions with animal motifs. Thanks to collaboration from the Behance Japan Tokyo Community, an online portfolio for artists and designers, Panasonic received more than 300 designs from around the world.
With the severe and far-reaching impact of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, governments and international organizations need more support for their relief efforts. They have called on the private sector to help the affected populations meet their basic needs in the midst of the crisis.
In response, Panasonic donated 240 solar lanterns to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in December 2014. Solar lanterns are now providing light to Ebola survivors, orphans, medical teams and workers fighting the epidemic in the affected areas of Liberia, where the outbreak is especially serious.
On February 19, Ms. Izumi Nakamitsu, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Crisis Response Unit at UNDP, visited Satoshi Takeyasu, Panasonic Corporation Executive Officer in charge of Groupwide Brand Communications Division.
Ms. Nakamitsu, who leads UNDP’s response to crisis, expressed gratitude for the solar lanterns donation.
“The solar lanterns are helpful to improve the lives of survivors and orphans affected by Ebola and to support workers in the frontlines of disease control. The solar lanterns not only shed light on the lives of these people, they can also help the fight against Ebola by enabling wire transfer via cell phones thanks to the solar lanterns’ charger functions. We appreciate your support for our emergency relief and early recovery efforts.”
Our solar lanterns are provided to Ebola survivors who have almost nothing when they are discharged from treatment clinics, since their belongings are incinerated when they test positive and are admitted for treatment. Solar lanterns have also been distributed to people living in quarantined areas, where access to electricity is often limited. In the capital Monrovia, solar lanterns are supporting medical teams while they work at nighttime.
The response to the Ebola crisis still needs much support. Panasonic will continue to contribute to relief efforts in countries that have been hit especially hard by the epidemic.
This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.