eternal lanterns project portable solar led lighting solutions for rural china l.
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Eternal Lanterns Project -- portable solar-LED lighting solutions for rural China -- Ilan Gur, Ph.D. Candidate Becca Jones, Ph.D. Candidate Jianping Du, MBA Candidate Zach Gentry, MBA Candidate Advisors: Dean Richard Newton, School of Engineering

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eternal lanterns project portable solar led lighting solutions for rural china

Eternal Lanterns Project-- portable solar-LED lighting solutions for rural China --

Ilan Gur, Ph.D. Candidate

Becca Jones, Ph.D. Candidate

Jianping Du, MBA Candidate

Zach Gentry, MBA Candidate

Advisors: Dean Richard Newton, School of Engineering

Evan Mills, Staff Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

abstract
Abstract

The purpose of this research effort is to provide a qualitative assessment of the utility and viability of a portable, solar powered LED lantern in addressing household lighting needs in rural China. We utilized qualitative interviews and surveys, and collected data from a variety of sources including research papers and government publications in China. As a result, we produced specific recommendations for companies, entrepreneurs, and researchers in this industry. More generally, we also provided insight to a broader audience who are interested in the promotion of sustainable lighting for rural development in China.

primary research question
Primary Research Question
  • Is a portable, solar-powered lighting solution appropriate and competitive for addressing household lighting needs in rural China, as assessed in the context of:
    • basic sociological user needs
    • alternative solutions
    • market forces
    • the central government’s goals and initiatives in rural development and the promotion of renewable energy sources?
  • Research results presented in a solar-LED symposium in Beijing, China at trip’s conclusion
trip itinerary summer 2004
Trip Itinerary – Summer 2004

Itinerary:

  • August 1-8: Beijing
    • China-U.S. Renewable Energy Workshop (sponsored by NREL)
    • Meetings with industry, NGO and government representatives
  • August 9-21: Tibet
    • Meetings with NGO and industry reps; visit to Tibet Solar Research Center
    • Field research: visits and interviews at 6 villages in the Lhasa area of Tibet
  • August 22-25: Beijing
    • Seminar with experts in PV and LED industries
pre existing system of use
Pre-Existing System of Use
  • Main Source of Light
    • Solar Lighting (CFL bulbs)
    • Candles
    • Diesel Lanterns
    • Flashlights
  • The Good: Electricity
    • Only 25-30 million in China without electricity (less than 500,000 in Tibet)
    • Solar home systems common in remote areas
  • The Bad: Diesel Lamps
    • Extremely dirty and poor light quality
solaris lantern lessons learned
Solaris Lantern: Lessons Learned
  • Portability seems highly valued aspect of lighting system
  • Some villagers expressed preference for portable lantern over solar home systems
  • BUT… portable solar system NOT prevalent in Lhasa street market
portable led flashlight lessons learned
Portable LED Flashlight: Lessons Learned
  • LED light valued as FLASHLIGHT lighting source
  • LED bulbs are a possible solution to flashlight needs, especially combined with solar / rechargability
  • Battery disposal a significant environmental issue…

 70 batteries/household/yr x ~7,000,000 households = ~ 500,000,000 batteries/year!

other important observations
Other Important Observations
  • Disconnect between issued system specs and specific end-user needs
  • Inability for remote villagers to take advantage of warrantees
  • Need for additional education/ maintenance (need localized system repair and maintenance)
  • Government subsidy programs need power delivery and “customer” satisfaction incentives