SolarAid fundraiser

A  group of local business people, academics and QUB students came together on the Belfast Barge recently to raise funds to light 60 homes in Africa with solar power . Organised by Planet Solar, the group collectively raised cash to provide access to clean, affordable solar lights for an entire village.

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The simple, affordable, award winning solar lights replace toxic kerosene lanterns and help families save up to a fifth of their income. They are distributed by UK charity SolarAid. Focusing on training and distribution, the organisation operates in East and Central Africa with the aim of eliminating kerosene lamps for Africa by 2020. Established in 2005, the charity has trained African entrepreneurs and distributed nearly 700,000 solar lights to date.

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Andy Baird, MD, Planet Solar:

“Kerosene lamps kill more people than malaria and yet are the main form of lighting across rural Africa. That’s one of the reasons we hosted the event, as so little is understood about the true potential of solar to rid the planet of dated, dangerous and toxic kerosene. The impact these solar lights have on African families is dramatic, with improved health, wealth and school grades some of the immediate benefits.  We donate to SolarAid every time we design and install a solar system in Northern Ireland. To date, we have donated over £1,600 which buys nearly 300 solar lamps.  Our main message is that solar is a fantastic clean energy source, increasingly affordable and gradually becoming mainstream.”

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The evening featured a number of short films about the energy challenges faced by rural African communities, and the immediate and measureable benefits of solar power. The group also heard from one of the film’s producers, Charlotte Webster from CCgroup, who spoke about the importance of communicating the power of renewables and the challenges the industry faces with misrepresentation. She presented the findings of the CCgroup report ‘How the national media treats renewables in the UK’, which found only 21% of articles to be positive about renewable energy, with only 10% containing a spokesperson from the renewable industry.

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