Every day we use energy carelessly, oblivious to the fact that many people around the world don’t have that privilege. According to the International Energy Agency, 58.1% of Africa’s population doesn’t have access to energy. Luckily, there is one tool that we all have access to right over our heads.
Solar panels are environmentally friendly devices that convert the sun’s power into electricity. Installing solar panels would be a good and easy way to give people all around the world access to energy, especially in third-world countries.
There are some people who believe that installing solar panels in Africa would be too difficult. Some think it would be too expensive. Others believe that it wouldn’t be worth it because the solar panels might break and maintenance fees are too expensive. However, there is a successful start-up company based in Africa called Tough Stuff that has already begun to install panels. Tough Stuff has invented solar panels that are well-suited for Africa’s climate. According to an article from the New York Times, the “primary product is a 1-watt, thin-film solar panel that is flexible, waterproof, and about the size of a piece of paper. It has no glass and is nearly indestructible.” The solar panels cost less than fifteen dollars a piece and the payback period would be about twelve weeks for the villagers, based on what they usually spend on generators, kerosene, and other energy sources.
Tough Stuff is also trying something new by employing villagers to sell the solar panels. By doing this, it is easier for the panels to get to more remote areas. Tough Stuff has proven that the many difficulties that may come up can be resolved if we put our minds to it. Having power access in a developing continent could be a huge step forward for the population. Companies like Tough Stuff are solving some of the world’s biggest issues, but their progress relies on public understanding and support.