Australian company uses solar power to light India’s slums

By Kate Hassett

Australian company uses solar power to light India’s slums
One Australian solar company is changing the way India's slums are powering up and moving forward.

Amongst the shanty towns in India, indoor air pollution from kerosene lamps and oil stoves are the second biggest cause of death.

One Australian company is seeking to turn this around, with the introduction of Solar panels, inserting electricity into the urban areas that have otherwise gone without it.

292 million people in India live without access to electricity, which means relying on fossil fuels, such as kerosene, is a necessity. That means, that 1/4 of the population is missing out on vital access to electricity that acts as a fundamental barrier, to the well-being of citizens and a hinderance to economic development. The wide spread use of kerosene also means that millions of tonnes of carbon are emitted into the atmosphere every year – an avoidable occurrence with the implementation of proper access to electricity.

Pollinate Energy are a company looking to bring about change in peoples lives and in turn impact the way these communities are run – for the better.

The company employs locals, who they call ‘pollinators’ to sell the solar panels within the communities, by going tent-to-tent and offering their services.

The lights cost about $30 each, and while that’s a lot of money for people who earn a few dollars a day, the company helps customers by allowing them to pay in instalments.

While the lights are popular – selling over 7000, the success is also partly due to their double use, as a phone charger.

“We discovered that the customers would pay double what they would pay for a solar light, for a solar-powered phone charger,” said co-founder Katerina Kimmorley.

Kimmorley wants the electricity to find it’s way into the communities like phones have been able to over the years.

“Bangalore, the city that we started in, was the first city in India to become electrified over 100 years ago and yet still in Bangalore, it is only 70-80 per cent electrified,” Kimmorley said.

“Whereas mobile phones came to Bangalore in the mid-80’s and within 20 years they were able to get this distributed system to 95 per cent of the population…if we can get a distributed light source to people then we can get the sort of uptake that mobile phones have had.”

The success stories that are available on the company’s website speak of the benefits users are already seeing from the solar powered devices.

Pushpa, a mother and tailor, has seen the monetary benefits through being able to operate her business at night, making an additional 200 rupees a week and saving another 200 rupees a week on kerosene.

Basawraj, father of two, has seen benefits extend to the rest of his family with study environments become more accessible to his sons, “he is proud that his eldest son is now in the first rank of his class.”

The impact that companies, such as Pollinate Energy, are having within these communities, is unparalleled. Tangible and realistic, the results are varied, showing improvements to personal well-being, positive environmental impacts, building awareness and propelling local business opportunities. All of these and more are creating a meaningful effect on the communities and therefore the people who exist within them.





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