Where: Africa, Peru, Philipines
Creators: Jim Reeves and Martin Riddiford
Impact: 13,000 households in 27 countries
An estimated 780 million households in developing countries rely on kerosene as the main source of energy. This kerosene costs, according to the same World Bank research, 10 to 20 percent of the income of these families. For these families, kerosene is not only pricey, but also harmful. Handling the substance is just as toxic as smoking two cigarette packs per day. It was this information that the English scientists Jim Reeves and Martin Riddiford put to work. GravityLight has been their alternative to kerosene lighting since 2012. The gravity lamp system is smart and simple. A bag full of weight – stones, mud, waste – is attached to a generator with a chain. As soon as the bag sinks, the chain slides down and gears start to work. The kinetic energy that is released, then converts the generator into LED light.
This lighting comes about without electricity, without batteries and without kerosene. However, GravityLight is only an intermediate solution for Reeves and Raddiford; their system is not without drawbacks. The gravity lamp has a weak light level -ter comparison: a light bulb is already 40 Watt. Reading with the gravity lamp is bad for the eyes. Another disadvantage is that the generator can not carry more weight than 10 kilos. This is enough for half an hour of light, then the bag with weight must be lifted up again. Considering the disadvantages, GravityLight had a difficult start. The English developers therefore set up a crowdfunding program in 2012. With the proceeds of this they wanted to bring a thousand gravity lamps to Kenya. Their action was successful. They raised $ 50,000 in four days and Bill Gates supplemented the research budget with $ 400,000. Meanwhile, 13,000 households in 27 countries. Apart from Africans, poor Peruvians and Filipinos read their kerosene light through GravityLight.
In the meantime Reeves and Raddiford renewed their gravity lamp. With Satlight they launched a modern version in 2015. This lamp can be connected to the generator of GravityLight and gives extra lighting. The generator now also gives energy to batteries and radios. Charging a USB, however, is not yet available. Reeves and Raddiford hope to keep the price for poor in developing countries low by making a profit on the Western market. Their efforts have led to a remarkable exchange trick. Cost GravityLight in Africa and India less than 10 euros, the gravity lamp is available in Europe for 80 euros.