On Friday 11/14/14, Ranganayakulu Bodavula Ph D, Chairman and Managing Director of Thrive® Solar Energy Pvt Ltd (http://www.thriveenergy.co.in), spoke at Harvard’s Center for Population Studies (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/population-development/). On Monday 11/17/14, he spoke to the MIT student group, e4Dev [Energy for Development] (http://e4dev.tumblr.com).
Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd is a leading solar powered LED lighting solutions provider from India, offering
“14 types of solar powered LED lights that cater to the lighting needs of children, women, households and villages. Its lights are used by tea estate workers, farmers, weavers, vendors, dairy and any other village level vocation that is in need of a clean, safe and reliable light. Thrive Solar partners with NGOs, women Self Help Groups (SHGs), Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs), funding agencies, banks, donors, educational institutions and businesses to promote and distribute its lighting products to bottom of the pyramid (BOP) communities, located in off-grid and intermittently grid connected geographies.”
Thrive is making 2 million lights per year at a price as low as $2 per lamp and are projecting 4 million per year production soon. They do not sell directly to consumers but through the different agencies with which they work. Nearly half of India still uses 12 lumen candles and 40 lumen kerosene lamps which can be replaced with 60 lumen solar lights. Currently, the Indian government subsidizes kerosene and paraffin prices by $6 billion per year. Thrive says it can provide solar lights to every Indian family now for about $1 billion.
Thrive Solar assembles their lights in India and in Kenya (http://www.thrivesolarafrica.com) and has a partner in the USA, Thrive Solar Energy Corporation (http://thrivesolarenergy.com). Half of the energy for their home factory in India is generated from the solar panels on the roof. The PV cells for the lights come from Taiwan at a price of 50¢ a Watt, the LEDs from Japan are 6¢ each, the plastics for the cases are local, and some of the power control chips come from the US. They are now using NiMH batteries but are beginning to switch over to Li Iron Phosphate. The present batteries have at least 2 year lifetime and are easily replaceable. On some of their lights, a full day’s charging provides a week’s worth of light.
Thrive Solar would like to establish local factories producing their lights wherever there is a need.
Ranga Bodavula and Thrive Solar Energy Pvt Ltd are demonstrating that solar is now the least cost method of providing light and cell phone electricity to the people who do not yet have access to such power. At a cost of $2 per solar light, the 1.4 billion or so people without electricity can have years of at least one electric light for a few billion dollars, for $2-4 dollars a piece, probably less than the cost of a month’s worth of candles and kerosene for those making $1-2 dollars a day.
According to a recent report (http://priceofoil.org/2014/11/11/fossil-fuel-bailout-g20-subsidies-oil-gas-coal-exploration/), the G20 spends $88 billion a year subsidizing fossil fuels exploration, about $6 for every $1 spent on renewable subsidies.
Another recent report (http://www.dw.de/fossil-fuel-subsidies-outstrip-renewables-funding-by-billions/a-17465775) says that “depending on the calculation method used, estimates of the amount of fossil fuel subsidies worldwide varies between 400 billion euros ($548 billion) and 2.6 trillion euros ($3.26 trillion) per year.”
An earlier report published in 2010 using 2007 numbers (pdf alert – http://www.iisd.org/gsi/sites/default/files/relative_energy_subsidies.pdf) estimated annual world energy subsidies at
fossil fuels $400 billion
nuclear $45 billion
renewables (excluding hydro) $27 billion
biofuels $20 billion
Buying one of Thrive®’s $2 solar LED 60 lumen lights for each of the estimated 1.4 billion now without access to electric light amounts to $2.8 billion for one year.
Tell me again what we’re waiting for.