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Panasonic to distribute 100,000 solar lantern/chargers to the developing world

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May 13, 2013

The Panasonic solar lantern can also charge small electronic devices

The Panasonic solar lantern can also charge small electronic devices

Despite the developed world's reliance on electricity, there are still 1.32 billion people on the planet without what most have come to see as a basic necessity. To mark its 100th anniversary, Panasonic plans to give rather than receive and distribute 100,000 solar lanterns that the company has developed that can not only provide light, but also charge mobile phones and other small devices.

Currently, many people without access to electricity have to fall back on kerosene lanterns for light. Not only do these fail to provide adequate illumination, but they also produce toxic smoke, require fuel that impoverished families can’t afford, and pose a constant fire hazard.

There’s also an irony in that while Westerners debate whether to ditch their landlines for mobile phones or tablets for PCs, people in parts of Africa, Asia and South America who have never seen a telephone pole or a desktop computer can often be seen talking or surfing the internet on a mobile phone. This is a great opportunity for betterment, but, unfortunately, this short cut to the digital age needs electricity, which conventional kerosene lamps can’t provide.

There have been any number of solar lanterns developed over the years to meet this problem and Panasonic has been distributing its own to the developing world since 2006. The company doesn't give any technical details of its latest lantern, but the goal is to produce a new version based on user feedback that not only gives brighter light, but can also charge small electronic devices.

Panasonic plans to market the the new solar lantern in the second half of 2013 and a prototype will be be exhibited at the 5th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD V) in Yokohama, which runs from June 1 to 3. In addition, Panasonic will distribute 100,000 of the lanterns through government and international charitable organizations by 2018 as part of its "100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project."

The video below outlines the "100 Thousand Solar Lantern Project."

Source: Panasonic

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
7 Comments

What about the other 1,319,900,000 who will not get one? Will the 100th of one percent receivers share with the rest?

donwine
14th May, 2013 @ 12:11 pm PDT

A great idea and kudos to Panasonic! Often, large corps are seen as the enemy of cultural development. However, the GravityLight crowd-funding project, (Gizmag 12/10/12) would prove much more practical for developing areas. While not able to charge small electronic devices, it does provide a much simpler solution and works even during the cloudy, monsoon season, (like all winter in most tropical areas) and also at night without the need for battery storage which can be expensive to replace and toxic to discard. At less than $5 to provide years of service, I think these areas would be better-served by the GravityLight. They raised almost $400K after their original goal of $55K. Check out their success at: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/gravitylight-lighting-for-developing-countries

wanderkip
14th May, 2013 @ 02:28 pm PDT

Misuse of the word "irony" in this article:

"There’s also an irony in that while Westerners debate whether to ditch their landlines for mobile phones or tablets for PCs, people in parts of Africa, Asia and South America who have never seen a telephone pole or a desktop computer can often be seen talking or surfing the internet on a mobile phone."

The situation, as described, does not rise to the level of irony. The situation, as described, is merely 'unexpected' not ironic.

PaulW
14th May, 2013 @ 03:22 pm PDT

Get the price down to less than a couple liters of lamp oil and sell them. Giving away a trivial number of them (compared to the size of the problem) does not fix the problem.

Selling mantels and the adapter kits at a reasonable profit would greatly improve the situation by generating significantly more light for the same amount of fuel burned.

Slowburn
14th May, 2013 @ 04:03 pm PDT

re; PaulW

Actually it should be blatantly obvious. Cell Towers are cheaper than hundreds of clicks of copper wire and can be fortified against theft and vandalism.

Slowburn
14th May, 2013 @ 11:01 pm PDT

@wanderkip Don't have much faith in gravity light. The people have kids. I would give it a maximum life of 2 days. Some kid is going to grab the bag and suspend his weight...no $5 plastic piece of plastic will survive that kind of abuse. And it is quite dim.

The Panasonic light appears to be much brighter and less exciting to abuse. But yes, not nearly as potentially cheap.

Mindbreaker
15th May, 2013 @ 03:44 am PDT

Actually, the GravityLight has been improved since the initial design and has more duration and brightness. Also included now are provisions for recharging batteries and perhaps small DC devices. And I wouldn't fret over the small % ratio of disobedient kids to the overwhelming advantages vs. a solar solution. Can't be paralyzed by every possible contingency...

wanderkip
15th May, 2013 @ 09:58 am PDT
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