works to build businesses with nonprofit groups and communities in Haiti, India, and Tanzania. In Haiti, the company set up a system so that people can rent portable LED lights, which are recharged by plugging into a generator powered by a bicycle-like device, for $2 per month. Kerosene lamp refills, by contrast, cost around $3.50 per month. Six hours of pedaling charges the 12-volt battery. Each 1.5-watt LED light running several hours every night should last a month.
Backed by World Bank contest funding, San Francisco-based Dissigno aims to set up rentals for up to 6,000 lights recharged by 20 pedal-powered, community generators in Karagwe, Tanzania. The generators are handmade in Nepal and can be fixed with a flathead screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench. The simple maintenance is an advantage over photovoltaics, said co-founder Gary Zieff, although he's considering adding a solar panel to supplement the electrical demands of the generator.
He also hopes to set up a system whereby villagers would have to set up a savings account at a community bank in order to rent the lights.
Zieff is exploring the potential for setting up utility-size solar photovoltaics up to the level of hundreds of kilowatts for communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
June 24, 2008 4:00 AM PDT
Photo by: Dissigno
| Caption by: Elsa Wenzel
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