Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Lighting the Way for Worldwide Solar Power

Magazine article Alternatives Journal

Lighting the Way for Worldwide Solar Power

Article excerpt

New solar power systems may be the key to providing light to areas in the world that have no electricity and increasing energy efficiency in areas that do.

An Atlanta-based company called Alternative Power Systems, Inc. (APS) has developed portable solar power systems that can provide energy for things from simple backup to powering homes and businesses. One of the systems, called "Ajay," has been designed to benefit international relief agencies, medical facilities and homeowners.

"Ajay was the crowning point in our evolution," says Jim Berry, co-founder of APS. "It is about the size of a large toolbox on wheels, has a 40-watt solar panel to capture the free energy of the sun, and can provide rural areas of the world with the ability to use what we all take for granted."

The inspiration for Ajay came from a story in the 1998 Annual Report of CARE, a worldwide relief agency. The story featured an Indian boy, named Ajay, who couldn't see the blackboard at school because it had no electricity. This is a widespread problem -- more than two billion people have no access to electrical power.

In response, APS decided in 1999 to provide simple, affordable solar power generating systems. An Ajay unit with a solar panel to generate daily power requirements costs $2790, and a basic Ajay without solar panel, for areas that have grid connected electricity but frequent power outages, is $1030.

The initial Ajay prototype was designed for CARE, based on their specific recommendations. It has been donated to them for field testing to determine if the system needs to be modified and whether or not Ajay can be introduced as a new product to CARE's 63 member countries.

New products such as Ajay have to go through a protracted system of review and approval before they are added to the available products for relief agencies and networks, says Dave Straub, co-founder of APS. …

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