Students in Northern and Central California will have a chance to build We Share Solar Suitcases that will give Kenyans access to clean electricity and lighting. Students at 19 high schools in Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) coverage area will build the rugged, easy to use devices. Students and teachers will also have an opportunity to win a trip to Kenya to deliver the devices to the children in Kenya who will use the devices.
The Solar Suitcase is a project of We Care Solar, a nonprofit focussed on using solar to help foster safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality in developing regions. It provides health workers with solar-powered lighting, mobile communication and medical devices. The devices include lighting, a battery, a charge controller, battery charger and a fetal Doppler (a handheld ultrasound to detect an unborn child’s heartbeat).
“What I am truly looking forward to with the Solar Suitcase Program is the opportunity to work with my peers on a project that provides a solution to a problem that we are all passionate about in order to make a difference beyond our own community,” said Christina To, a student at Pinole Valley High School.
The high schools in the PG&E program will each receive more than $8,000 of equipment (more than 100 Solar Suitcases) and training, which they will employ to build the portable solar kits.
PG&E said that already nearly 1,100 California students have participated in the program. The devices they’ve built in the past now light the living spaces of more than 2,400 Kenyan students, the utility said.
“I love that PG&E’s Solar Suitcase Program combines education in clean energy with fostering a spirit of community service. It’s about helping students act locally and think globally,” said Helen Burt, PG&E's senior vice president, External Affairs and Public Policy.
In addition to having the opportunity to learn about solar power while also making a difference to people in Kenya, students will have a chance to win a trip to deliver the devices to orphanages, schools and medical clinics in Kenya. Students can submit videos of their own local sustainability projects to PG&E and winning schools can choose two students and a teacher to go to Kenya The WE Charity.
The We Care Solar program is one of many that are trying to make a difference with solar power in developing nations. Others, like SunFunders are tackling the issue in different ways. That organization recently received $15 million in funding from the US Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to bring solar to developing nations. There are also other options to help people get access to electricity in developing nations like the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar systems that allow people to essentially rent a solar system and pay for the power as they use it. If they don’t pay, the system stops working.Tweet