Lighting in rural India is mainly achieved through the burning of kerosene lamps. In remote parts of India, specifically in the states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, kerosene is unavailable. If available, it is sold to the poor at exorbitant black market rates, sometimes upwards of 70 rupees per liter (a 2005 estimate). Lighting kerosene in homes is also unsafe because of noxious fumes as well the risk of fire in homes that have thatched roofs. The Aishwarya lamp, designed by Noble Energy Solar Technologies, is a solar-powered lamp that provides significantly more light than a kerosene lamp. The lantern has a life of over 10 years, and the battery must be replaced every 3 years to guarantee longevity of the product. Rather than repair the product upon damage, NEST has designed it so that key parts can be replaced for an inexpensive fee. The lantern utilizes a 3 W compact fluorescent lamp, specially manufactured for this application.
It is currently being sold in remote and poor villages in India, through dealerships that are trained by NEST. These lanterns are affordable through a payment plan that allows individual dealers and sub-dealers, who know their customers. Because of this personal relationship with customers, villagers pay on a monthly installment plan over 8 or 16 month periods (200 or 100 rupees a month). Based on their size, dealerships sell anywhere from 500 - 1000 lanterns a year, with only 3-4% of customers defaulting on payments.
Mr DT Barki founded NEST in 1998 after seeing the fatal results of a kerosene-lamp fire in a house. Since then, he and NEST have been committed to replacing kerosene lamps with PV lanterns that eliminate harmful and toxic emissions typically associated with burning kerosene. Furthermore, the sale of the Aishwarya lantern in villages has employed a number of people as dealers (including a handful of women), and has also allowed villagers to increase earning by giving them a safe and well-lit environment to work in. The power of the Aishwarya light is almost five times that of a traditional kerosene lamp, thus enabling children to study and read after dark. The product won an Ashden Award in 2005 for its creative design as well as its feasible payment strategy. Since then, NEST has used its award support to further publicize the Aishwarya lantern, and to fund research into more efficient PV systems.
Publicly available: yes
Countries where available: India
Local Price: 1600 rupees