#SolarChat 3/14/12 Discovers How “Light Transforms Lives”
Most people reading this already know solar is good for the environment and for household budgets, too. But did you know that many solar companies, from manufacturers and installers to industry organizations, are also doing good across the world?
The most recent #SolarChat, held on March 14, explored the ways that “Solar Does Good,” with a theme of “Giving Back and ‘Brightening’ Our Communities.” (Read the full recap here.)
One of the most profound statements, which we “borrowed” for this blog post title, came from Solar_Sister, who said, “Light transforms lives.” @SEIA liked it, too, tweeting later: “Simple yet profound notion, esp. for us that take it for granted.”
Exactly what is the solar industry doing to help make the world a better, brighter place? As it turns out, lots!
The largest solar installer in the U.S., and the organization many look to as the standard in solar, SunPower, has its own foundation devoted to supporting and spearheading community solar energy projects and programs. SolSolution, a not-for-profit, works to provide solar power in underprivileged schools in the U.S. and beyond, through Power Purchase Agreements. Meanwhile, SELF, the not-for-profit Solar Electric Light Fund, runs a campaign named “Energy is a Human Right,” which seeks to bring solar energy to the electricity impoverished.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of everyone involved in “solar giving,” but we are especially grateful to our panelists, Alyssa Newman of SunPower, Samantha Go of SolSolutions, and John Alejandro of SELF who took the time to share their thoughts and ideas and to inspire others in attendance at the #SolarChat.
Who Needs Our Help?
The chat focused on three main areas of charitable giving:
- In schools, both here and in other countries, including third-world countries
- Here at home
- Energy-impoverished people across the world
Solar in Schools
As we put solar panels on schools in under-served areas of the U.S., we’re not just giving students electricity so they can get connected, stay warm (or cool), and have light to read by, we’re creating future solar leaders, and we’re teaching students about the importance of eco-consciousness and renewable energy. I’ve seen it in my own home — how my family’s solar PV installation opened my children’s eyes to energy conservation and sustainability. Imagine making that profound impact on an entire classroom, school, or even an entire school district of children, and possibly even opening their eyes to a career path that could get them out of the inner city? That’s the true power of solar in our schools.
Energy Poverty Across the World
It’s ironic that we’re very quick to send laptops and cell phones to third-world countries in order to keep them connected and help them educate their children for a brighter, more hopeful future… but often, these families and schools don’t have the power to run these 21st century devices.
In other cases, parents must choose to pay for electricity or feed their children. We see examples where people use deadly kerosene to heat their homes and for lighting. Kerosene costs three to four times more than solar power, but it’s what’s available to them right now.
It doesn’t take a lot to help these families make the switch. Sunlight is free, clean and abundant in these parts of the world. All it takes is the right kind of technology — and the right support from the solar community — to harness the sun and turn it into clean, healthy, abundant electricity.
It Doesn’t Take a Lot; Here’s How You Can Help
One thing that really stood out to me during the #SolarChat is how so little can do so much. A donation of just $100 could help supply three or four families with clean, sustainable power. In these economic times, people may not have $100 to donate — but even $20, or $10 or $5, can make a difference. We just have to get the word out, and those 20 five-dollar donations from people here in the U.S. can bring solar power to those who need it most.
Everybody wants to do good, but some people don’t know where to start. The organizations who took part in our #SolarChat, all founded by solar leaders, are a great place to start. The sun is shining brightly all over the world — and its energy is ours for the taking.