News 2012

Partnership with Korea Green Foundation brings solar lanterns to Lao village

2012-12-Logo Green-Korea

Sunlabob teams with Korea Green Foundation and Lao Institute for Renewable Energy to deliver self-sustaining Solar Lantern Rental System to remote Laos

Partnering with the Korea Green Foundation and the Lao Institute for Renewable Energy (LIRE), Sunlabob recently completed the installation of a Solar Lantern Rental System (SLRS) in Ban Thongkatai, a remote village of 15 households in the Salavan Province of southern Laos. The community is not connected to the national electric grid meaning that most of the 120 villagers previously relied on burning wood as their primary source of lighting. The 12-lantern rental system will provide an affordable, reliable, healthy and convenient alternative to collecting and burning firewood.

“Access to solar-powered lanterns is bringing multifaceted benefits to this community,” said Andy Schroeter, cofounder and CEO of Sunlabob Renewable Energy, which pioneered the self-sustaining SLRS approach. “Not only is a superior source of lighting being provided, these families are enabled with better opportunities for education and entrepreneurship,” said Schroeter.

Direct income is generated for the members of the elected Village Energy Committee (VEC) – which governs and oversees the lantern rental program – as well as the two Village Energy Technicians (VETs) who were trained by LIRE team members in technical and bookkeeping skills to manage the system on a daily basis.

“The Solar Lantern Rental System addresses many key aspects of sustainable rural development through its self-sustaining approach,” said Aurelie Phimmasone, managing director of Lao Institute for Renewable Energy, which is monitoring and measuring the economic and social impacts of the project. “The village receives immediate job creation and also quickly realizes the many other benefits of a reliable, affordable, clean source of lighting – health, education and overall improved livelihood.”

The rental system, which Sunlabob pioneered in Laos and has implemented throughout numerous developing countries in Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia, hinges on the community-based approach of empowering community members with technical knowledge and bookkeeping skills to allow for complete ownership and operational capability by the village.

Recognizing the multi-tiered economic, social and health benefits enabled by the project, Korea Green Foundation provided financial support through its Green Asia Grant program, which is focused on environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

The LIRE and Sunlabob teams will revisit Ban Thongkatai in six months for a coaching visit, acting as an opportunity to ensure proper system maintenance and accurate, timely bookkeeping is occurring.