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Eco-friendly Off Grid lighting for developing countries

OSRAM’s unique project in Kenya

(PresseBox) (Regensburg, ) On Lake Victoria in Kenya OSRAM has launched a unique project for producing light away from a permanent power supply. At a specially constructed solar station

(OSRAM Energy Hub) the local people can recharge batteries for energy-saving lamps, luminaires and other electrical appliances, such as mobile phones, at low cost and without damaging the environment. Off Grid solutions are the way forward for developing and emerging countries that cannot afford to set up a permanent power supply network. The market is huge. 1.6 billion people throughout the world live without electricity. "OSRAM is a pioneer in the field of Off Grid solutions. We are proud to be the first lighting manufacturer in the world to offer a sustainable lighting solution for regions without power supply networks", said Dr. Kurt Gerl, CSO of OSRAM GmbH at a press conference in Nairobi.

Around Lake Victoria there are approximately 30 million people do not have access to a permanent power supply. They produce light by burning kerosene, which is not only harmful to their health, it also places a huge burden on the environment. Burning kerosene to produce light emits 67 million tonnes of CO2 each year in Africa - that is approximately equivalent to the annual CO2 emissions of Finland. Globally 190 million tonnes of CO2 are emitted each year. "OSRAM s solar station, the OSRAM Energy Hub, is a concept that can be replicated anywhere in the world. We re supporting the local economy in the region, the local population, and reducing CO2 emissions," says Wolfgang Gregor, project leader Off Grid and Chief Sustainability Officer at OSRAM.

Sustainable development in the region The pilot project in Mbita provides an excellent basis for successful implementation of the Off Grid concept. This small town on the banks of Lake Victoria does not have a permanent power supply, but does have a thriving economy based on fishing. Around 175,000 fishermen use kerosene lamps every night to entice the fish. For the fishermen in Mbita, switching over to solar powered "O-LAMP BASIC" or "O-LAMP 2 in 1" energysaving lamps will pay for itself in just four weeks as the cost of kerosene takes up more than half of their income. At the same time, jobs are being created at the Energy Hubs.

Local training courses for operating and sales staff have already begun. A micro-financing system organized by the local NGO, OSIENALA, is in place to finance the lamps and the deposit.

Three further Energy Hubs in Kenya and Uganda about to open The OSRAM Energy Hub in Mbita was built in just four months following a year of planning. The other collaborators are Solarworld AG and the cell phone manufacturer Nokia. The pilot energy hubs have water treatment systems with integrated UV lamps of OSRAM at theirs disposal. The goal is to cooperate with Siemens to provide water treatment systems after the pilot trial. OSRAM teams are working on three further Energy Hubs in Kenya and Uganda which will be opened in the next few months. In addition, the building of a new energy hub in India will be assessed.

OSRAM Off Grid lamps for light away from a permanent power supply The "O-LAMP BASIC" and "O-LAMP 2 in 1" products for the Off Grid project are particularly robust, watertight and much more cost-effective than the kerosene lamps currently being used. The "OSRAM O-LAMP BASIC" operates in combination with an external battery box which can be taken back to the nearest Energy Hub as soon as it is discharged and exchanged for a fully charged battery. Users pay a deposit for the box.

Other low-power devices such as radios and mobile phones can also be connected to this battery box (O-BOX) and run or recharged. There are also complete luminaires such as the "OSRAM O-LAMP 2-in-1" which comprises an energy-saving lamp and LED. It has an integrated battery and is recharged or exchanged at the Energy Hub as a separate unit.