This Earth Day, we’re celebrating an important milestone in our partnership with SolarCity’s GivePower Foundation. Since first teaming up in 2013, buildOn and SolarCity have now illuminated more than 200 schools with clean, sustainable solar power!
The solar-equipped schools can now stay open after dark, providing safe spaces where children can study after class, grownups can learn in Adult Literacy Classes, and community members can gather. But the benefits go well beyond the classroom. Solar power is creating sustainable development in buildOn partner communities and helping to alleviate many of the ‘energy poverty’ issues plaguing the developing world.
Globally 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity. More than 95% of these people are either in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia, and around 80% are in rural areas. That’s almost 20% of the world’s population living in the dark. For those that go without, cooking and seeing after dark means using open fires or kerosene lamps that are unhealthy and dangerous. For those that do have access to electricity, it often comes from outdated power plants or diesel generators that burn dirty fossil fuels.
But in buildOn partner communities, clean solar power is helping residents lift themselves out of poverty sustainably. In one village in Mali, community members now sell cold drinks refrigerated by the school’s power system. In Haiti, solar is powering a hen house that villagers use to feed the community and generate income. In the village of Koilahi, Nepal, the GivePower Foundation recently completed a large-scale solar installation that is not just lighting the school, but also powering a water pump system that will free up hours of time villagers used to spend gathering water by hand. Power lines from a conventional power plant run by the village, but the dirty energy they carry has been too expensive for the economically impoverished community to tap into.
Learning under solar powered light in a buildOn Adult Literacy Class in Nepal. Students in the Adult Literacy Program organize income generating projects and many groups are using their schools’ solar to power these projects.
Solar power is allowing villages like Koilahi, Nepal to essentially ‘leapfrog’ traditional electricity technology, much like mobile technology is doing for regions that never had access to land-based telecommunications. With plentiful solar power to charge mobile devices, mobile internet can be used in the classroom and buildOn partner communities are able to take full advantage of the mobile boon transforming much of the developing world.
For every megawatt of residential solar power SolarCity installs for its customers, the GivePower Foundation donates a solar power system and battery to a school without electricity. SolarCity mirrors buildOn’s sustainable development methodology of building with communities, not for communities by working closely with villagers to install and maintain their solar power systems.
This Earth Day and every day, we’re excited to be partnering with SolarCity’s GivePower Foundation to bring sustainable development to some of the world’s economically poorest countries. We look forward to illuminating many more schools and lives in the future!