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New innovative solar light connecting off-grid population to free fuel from the sun

Namene Solar Light Company Ltd. (NSLC), designing and manufacturing one of the most affordable, high-quality entry-level pico-solar lights, announced the launch of an innovative 2nd generation SM100 Solar Light. The new improved, and patent pending, SM100 Solar Light is brighter, more durable, longer-lasting and more sustainable; while retaining the same versatile and compact award-winning design and features.

There are an estimated 1.1 billion people living without electricity in the world. That’s 1,100,000,000 people or the combined population of the EU, Japan, USA, Canada and Australia. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Of those, over 600 million people live in sub-Saharan Africa. In most cases, the default source of lighting is burning fossil fuels such as kerosene or paraffin candles that result in a cascade of local negative impacts for off-grid rural families. High variable costs of the fossil fuel, indoor pollution, fire risk and other detrimental health impacts. And, if that wasn’t bad enough, children are not motivated to read or study for school when the light produced is poor, fumes sting their eyes and trigger headaches, and may even burn them in an accident. This leads to a vicious cycle: “poverty leads to a lack of light, this leads to a lack of homework, this to poor performance and this back to poverty” as explained to us by a teacher at a remote rural school in Zambia. 

On top of that, we are all impacted. The GHG (Green House Gas) emissions released by hundreds of millions of small fossil-fuel based lights burning every night across sub-Saharan Africa are significant. And more sinister is the proportion of black carbon released, due to the inefficiency of combustion, that is many orders of magnitude more climate forcing than carbon dioxide.

The key to solving this challenge is the affordability of that first pico-solar light when the vast majority of rural communities are living below the poverty line of USD 1.95 per day. The 1st generation SM100 Solar Light was designed to address that need, combined with exceeding Lighting Global quality standards and with no compromise on performance and durability. Insights from over 30,000 end user interactions, from NSLC’s long-term collaborator SolarAid, were squeezed into the design of that 1st generation product.

But we must and can do even better.

“The 2nd generation SM100 Solar Light is based on 2 years of user insights from remote rural villagers in sub-Saharan Africa, NGOs and commercial entities marketing and selling our 1st generation product,” said Carolin Stähler, Communications Director at NSLC. “Detailed after-sales review and analysis was also used to design out any product weaknesses that were experienced. Overwhelmingly, end users and channel partners said they wanted a brighter, longer lasting, more sustainable and more durable light with no increase in price. As listening to our customers is the bedrock of our business, that is exactly what we have done.”

Brighter due to an increase from 18 to 30 lumens and a patent pending non-imaging optical device that increases the illuminance (lux) on the table or task area by nearly 50%.

Longer lasting due to two light settings at 30 and 10 lumens providing light for 4+ hours and 10+ hours respectively and of course with the extra nearly 50% increase in illuminance on top. The SM100 Solar Light can now be used as a night safety-light, an important feature for households with children.

More sustainable due to the solar PV electronics package being based on a plug & play architecture making field replacement of components easy if required. This also simplifies recycling or reuse of components where possible at end of useful life. Packaging that uses any plastic has been deleted.

More durable due to an improvement in ingress protection from IP 23 to IP 44 backed by an increase in warranty to 2 years.

No increase in price as we stand by our principle of ‘More Light For Your Money’.

“In a technical development capacity this has been a tough project; how to deliver more performance with improved durability and more sustainability with no cost increases for users and not compromising on our high-quality standards,” said Massimo Lisanti, Technical Director at NSLC. “Crazy goal really. But the long hours, with many highs and lows, have been worth it. I am really happy with the new light as I know what it means for families in remote rural areas and to those people affected by humanitarian crises.”

“This is about deeds not words.” said Darren Thompson, Managing Director at NSLC, “This is about really making a difference to the quality of life of a family living in a remote African village and helping to break the vicious cycle that holds back a generation of children from a quality education and a fighting chance to achieve their aspirations. We can express the positive impacts of an SM100 Solar Light in terms of a kaleidoscope of UN Sustainable Development Goals and related impacts; and yes, that is important. However, when you see the benefits with your own eyes and listen to the stories from teachers, nurses, parents and children from the rural communities, the tangible change in people’s lives is truly transforming. The addressable market is over 1 billion people and we feel that more can be done, working alongside our NGO and CSR partners, to reach this population at base-of-pyramid so that no-one is left behind. This is what drives us forward.”

NSLC has had a long and close collaboration with SolarAid since 2011. CEO, John Keane, has invested his working life in solving the challenges of electricity access and contributing to the deployment of nearly 2 million solar lights in Africa by SolarAid. A few words from him about how he thinks the new improved SM100 Solar Light will impact families: “We're excited by the new SM100 from Namene Solar Light Company, which is set to light up homes across rural Africa, extending the days of people living across the continent, making homes safer, cleaner and brighter places to be. Indeed, the social impact this safe, clean, renewable light will have cannot be overstated. At SolarAid, we believe that the age of dangerous, dirty, CO2 emitting kerosene lights and paraffin candles should be consigned to history. This new, improved SM100 Solar Light will help achieve just that.”


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