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SUSTAINABILITY| 09.04.2021

“Light Humanity”: an entirely social project designed to facilitate universal access to solar energy

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When night falls in the Amazon, darkness descends on its inhabitants. Kerosene lamps are the only halo of light that allows them to see when the sun goes down. However, these lamps are highly toxic to use and create serious illnesses, even death. This is why Light Humanity exists: to improve quality of life, provide safety and curb the mortality of riverside families through solar energy.

More than 7,000 km separate us from one of the most remote places in the world. When night falls, the Amazon sits in darkness with no access to reliable power to be able to see after sundown. In order to continue living a somewhat normal life, the inhabitants make use of kerosene lamps. In fact, 90 percent of these riverside families depend on these toxic lamps for light. 

This means that millions of people live without access to electricity in rural areas of the Amazon and, by using this type of lighting, families inhale toxic gases from the combustion of kerosene, causing serious respiratory diseases, even death. This is why Light Humanity was founded. 

It was in 2018 when, on a trip to this area of the Amazon, Eugenio García-Calderón was able to travel through different places where, through Amiraldo’s family, he really got to know what these communities were exposed to every time night fell. To give us some background, Eugenio is an engineer by training, although he defines his personality as curious, adventurous and eager to leave a positive mark on the world” in which he lives. Before Light Humanity, he rode around Spain on a solar-powered bike with the aim of raising awareness about universal access to clean and affordable energy. The project was called “Pedaleo Solar.” Afterward, this very initiative came to mind with a clear mission: to make solar energy generation accessible to all who need it. 

Millions of people live without access to electricity in rural areas of the Amazon

The sun’s energy is abundant and has the ability to change people’s lives and protect the environment. By distributing home solar systems, the Light Humanity team is able to guarantee permanent access to solar energy, thus improving respiratory health and access to education in rural areas. Whenever we meet families who rely on kerosene, our hearts just break. Especially when they are families with children at home and some of them have already developed respiratory diseases due to this situation, Eugenio says.

The project was founded in 2018 with the aim of combating climate change and reducing inequalities, using energy as a lever for transformation. After an exploratory trip to the area, they came to the conclusion that they had to change the way the people living there obtained light after nightfall. On that trip, they assessed whether their solar solution was feasible for families that depended on kerosene. But that was not their only goal.

 Our mission is for more and more people to be able to generate their own solar energy, both in Spain and in places without electricity, such as the Amazon,” Eugenio explains. In fact, they also work in areas that suffer from power cuts, such as Cañada Real in Spain, as well as very impoverished rural areas such as Madagascar.

Whenever we meet families who rely on kerosene, our hearts just break, especially when they have children at home who have already developed respiratory diseases

Light Humanityis an entirely social project designed to facilitate universal access to solar energy. They do this through a network of light multipliers that ensure access to this energy, which is essential in order to live safely. The team was able to see firsthand just how tricky living conditions in the Amazon are, experiencing what it’s like to live in complete darkness. 

They also provide funding to families so that they can pay for the cost of solar energy monthly in order to stop using kerosene. This is possible thanks to the contribution of citizens and companies in the “Compensa tu Huella” (“Offset your Footprint”) program and the “Tienda Solar y Solidaria” (“Solar and Solidarity Store”). By purchasing a Light Humanity product, the consumer will help fund the manufacture and shipment of a solar lamp to a family without access to electricity in Madagascar or the Amazon.

Thanks to these supportive purchases by travelers and environmentally conscious people in Spain, they are able to finance the manufacture and shipment of these same products to communities without power in Africa, Asia and Latin America. They also train local entrepreneurs in areas lacking power to manage points of sale for solar products. This allows them to tear down the barrier to access to solar energy through a long-term sustainable model, driven by the local economy.

Although the sun shines for everyone, not everyone can afford easy access to the energy it generates

This, in the words of García-Calderón, “gives people the opportunity to be energy producers, not just consumers, and generates an unprecedented energy sovereignty. The key part of our value proposition is for people and companies to contribute through impactful purchases in our solar store and also for them to measure and offset their carbon footprint through our “Neutralist” program. This allows us to obtain financing to further develop solar products, distribute them in areas without electricity and provide access to micro-loans to families who need it most.”

Although the sun shines for everyone, not everyone can afford easy access to the energy it generates. That’s why Eugenio’s dream is crystal clear: “Energy in the hands of the citizens, which is also sustainable and accessible.” And he is working hard to achieve it.