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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pinoy solar bottle bulb wins international light award

A Filipino social enterprise distributing do-it-yourself house lamps, lanterns, and streetlights to impoverished communities has won the prestigious 7th Zayed Future Energy Prize 2015.
MyShelter Foundation’s A Liter of Light project won the world’s biggest award for renewable energy and sustainability in the Non-Profit Organization category for its ingenious solar bottle bulb which reuses empty plastic soda one-liter bottles, turning them into solar-powered light bulbs.
Founder and Executive Director Illac Diaz of the A Liter of Light project leads his team in teaching communities how to manufacture and install the solar light bulbs, in the process collaborating with local governments to install 12,000 solar bottle bulbs, providing light for 10,000 homes in Manila and surrounding Philippine provinces.

The technology is simple enough, developed by Diaz after coming across the original bottle light technology while studying alternative architecture and urban planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The repurposed plastic bottle is filled with bleached water, installed on the roof, and as sunlight is refracted through the water and coursed into the room, a solar-powered 55-watt bulb is lighted up.
The night lights version uses a small solar panel, four LED lights, a simple circuit, a battery, some plastic tubing, and the plastic soda bottle. The resulting three-watt bulbs provide enough light to a 15 square meter area. The circuits are designed to automatically switch on and off when detecting the presence or absence of daylight. A 10-ft PVC pipe can transform the bulbs to street lights.
The project was launched in 2011, and a YouTube video showing the simple DIY installation of solar bottle bulb has gone viral. The project has since gone global with 53 country chapters reaching Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Italy, Paris, and the United States making possible the installation of 350,000 day lights and about 15,000 night lights worldwide.
“Ours is a story about the power of harnessing open source technologies and sharing them with young people around the world who are keen to solve energy poverty in their own communities,” said Diaz of the project’s success. “Sometimes the solutions that work best come from developing countries, from the bottom up, since they have to manage the greatest impact with the least resources.”
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