The Quest for Light, part 2

In our first episode of The Quest for Light we discussed the evolution of light through history and its relationship to the economic development of industrialized society.   In this article, we will shed some light (pun intended) on the needs of the developing world.  Just as access to clean water is essential, access to electricity and ultimately light is also essential.

There is good news.  In 1990 just over 71% of the world’s population had access to electricity.  By 2016, that number had risen to just over 87%.  Electricity means much more than light as we know and light can be harvested without electricity as well.  As the world strives to reach a goal of universal access to electricity, we are also in a race to get to Net Zero Energy by 2030.  Not all that far away.  There is much work to do to eliminate energy poverty.   Let’s look at some of the great work being done.

A Liter of Light

This is a global, grassroots organization that uses inexpensive, readily available materials to provide high-quality solar lighting to people with limited or no access to electricity.  Their solar lamp utilizes a simple circuit, the parts can be sourced locally.  A lithium phosphate battery can last 12-16 hours each day.  It has an auto-on feature at night and a manual on/off switch.  A house light can light up 50 square meters for 12 hours with a 10-watt solar panel that also can charge cellphones and other small devices.   The bottle light is a portable unit mounted on a PVC pipe also with a 9-watt solar panel.

They have active volunteers in 15 countries and have provided light to over 353, 000 homes.  You can find out more about their award-winning work at

Unite to Light

This organization designed an affordable reading light with solar power.  They have projects targeted at health, education, disasters, and the homeless to provide light for disadvantaged communities.  You can donate directly or buy a light and they will give one light to someone in need.  Check them out at

Solar Sister

This organization trains and supports women entrepreneurs to deliver clean energy to homes in rural African communities with durable, affordable solar-powered products and clean stoves.  This effort empowers women by kickstarting a sustainable business selling products directly to people without power.  To learn more about this organization visit

IALD Education Trust

Closer to home, this educational organization supports students studying lighting by connecting them to practicing lighting professionals.  The Travel Stipend Program enables lighting students from all over the world to attend key industry events, seminars, and conferences and build professional connections to help launch their careers.  The Scholarship Program helps offset the enormous cost of higher education.  You can help ensure a bright future by purchasing a virtual Blue Ribbon, a visible sign of support at the Go Fund me site

Only light can overcome the darkness.