by Josie Le Blond
Chinese energy company Yingli Green Energy announced in a joint statement with Solar Roof Systems, Kingspan and Atama Solar Energy that together they have raised a total of €24,000 for SolarAid, the London-based charity using solar power to help support education in Africa.
The money raised will support SolarAid's 'Lighter Learning' programme (see video) to improve the education of children in Africa by providing lighting for classrooms in 12 schools across Zambia.
Only 9% of rural sub-Saharan dwellers in Africa have access to electricity, according to the statement, with the average family of the remaining 91% of the population spending up to 25% of their income on kerosene for lighting.
SolarAid said it wants to eradicate the kerosene lamp from Africa by 2020 and to provide clean light in every home on the continent, improving the health, education and wealth of Africa's 110 million households currently without access to electricity.
SolarAid does not give solar lights away, but sells them to help create a market for solar and maintains them to ensure communities value them. Using micro-solar systems, the cost of SolarAid's procuring, installing and promoting lighting kits for a school is €2,000.
Solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces reliance on expensive kerosene lamps. The charity also promotes the benefit of solar lamps through schools as children tell their parents who are then convinced to buy a light to help their child to study.
Demand for solar lights is rising dramatically, said the charity, which funded and distributed a total of 294,033 solar lights in 2012 and the organization is aiming to make it a million in 2013.
"It is our great pleasure to support SolarAid's 'Lighter Learning' programme. Solar lights essentially extend the time for study and improve education for many young people,” said Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy.
"Solar has a crucial role to play in the developing world where countless communities are trapped by kerosene and in a cycle of perpetual poverty," said Darren Thompson, Managing Director of Yingli Green Energy International AG.
Working with SolarAid, Yingli Green Energy initiated a charity event whereby a small group of its employees would dedicate a day of their time to educate children about solar energy and SolarAid at a German school in Flensburg.
Yingli Green Energy called its customers for donations via an auction during its global customer conference in October 2012. The winning bidder was Solar Roof Systems based in Germany, however Atama Solar Energy from the Netherlands and Kingspan from the UK also decided to donate their bids. €12,000 was donated in total and Yingli Green Energy matched that amount, thereby raising a total of €24,000 Euro for SolarAid.
With this amount, 12 schools in Zambia had solar PV micro-systems installed on their roofs to allow classes to continue into the evening thereby extending education time for nearly 5,000 children.
"When a leading group of companies with passion for renewable energy get together to enable SolarAid to provide lighting for children and schools, it helps send a message that solar energy really does transform lives," said Richard Turner, Director of Fundraising at SolarAid.