An estimated 1.2 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity, denying them many of the benefits of the modern world. We believe hope and innovation start with access to clean power. Our mission is to improve lives and the environment through renewable energy technologies.
For example, in rural Zambia, only 2 percent of people have grid power. Providing access to power has proven to be enormously beneficial to people’s education, health, and livelihood. Many students end their schooling while still children in order to begin working. In Zambia, the secondary education (from age 10 to high school) enrollment rate is 24 percent. The ability to do schoolwork at night can enable children to stay in school longer and raise their academic performance. For example, as reported in the New York Times, a Kenyan mother said that a similar device enabled her child to study at night and jump from 28th in his class to 5th.
We hope to show developing nations can leapfrog decades of fossil fuel infrastructure development by powering their countries with renewable energy today. EBL’s goal is to build multiple demonstration projects around the world, improving the lives and the environment of communities surrounding those projects and further demonstrating the importance, feasibility, and sustainability of electrifying very remote and critical areas around the world with 100 percent clean renewable energy.
Empowered by Light’s first project, Solar: ZAMBIA, began as an effort to deliver thousands of solar-powered LED light/cell phone charge kits to very remote areas with no access to electricity. In 2011 and 2012, EBL delivered light kits to 52 basic schools throughout the Shangombo District in the Western Province of Zambia. With the kits, school-age children have been able to study at night, after the sun has set, improving their grade performance and their chances for a better life.
In 2013, we built a 24kW solar array with backup battery storage at Sioma High School in Zambia, a school comprised of 27 buildings and that serves over 600 students. Today, the campus runs 100 percent on the micro grid we built, and the students and teachers benefit from a fully-powered campus until 10:30 p.m., improved safety and hygiene, access to computer studies, and clean water across the campus. And there is clear, measurable benefit from our system shown in students’ test scores, with the student exam pass rate jumping 89% just one year after the micro grid was commissioned.
In 2015, we began developing projects in other critically endangered areas of the world. Our collaboration with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation made our expansion plans possible.