Free, efficient, non-polluting light is now available to the world’s poorest people, thanks to LED (light-emitting diode) technology and solar panels.

It really excites me to read articles like this one that talk about how new technology is being used to benefit those who live in countries that are struggling. Thanks to nonprofit organizations and scientists around the world, LEDs and solar technology are paving the way to a more sustainable future, especially for the world’s poor.

Today, the electrical systems in developing countries are really lacking. Not only is electricity not available to all people because it’s expensive, it’s also hard to come by because the infrastructure isn’t there – it’s either incomplete or in disrepair. That means people are struggling to cook food, heat their homes, and light their lives at night.

But thanks to a few new innovations, this is becoming a thing of the past. For instance, Nicole Kuepper, an Australian scientist, recently developed a way to make solar cells using only a nail polish remover-like substance, an inkjet printer, and a pizza oven. These simple materials cut costs dramatically for solar cells, making it possible to produce less expensive products that might be affordable to those living on less than $2 a day.

But she hopes to cut costs even more by having residents of these poor communities manufacture the products themselves, which means jobs for them and lowered costs. With these options, countries can invest in providing solar house-by-house to these citizens rather than upgrading a decrepit electric system. Seems like a great plan.

Another organization, Solar Aid, is working to help kerosene users in developing countries retrofit kerosene lamps with solar cells and LED lights. This idea would cost about $7-12 for a couple of batteries, some LEDs, and a solar panel, and would save the users a lot of money in kerosene fuel. And with micro-credit loans, it’s becoming even more available.

It’s so nice to report on a positive outcome of our frantic search to find efficient lighting for the western world.