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    Solar LED lighting: the story behind the lamp


    The story begins with just a lamp. It could be anywhere: a big city, a remote village, or even a factory for a global corporation. Each night it performs its normal function of illuminating its surrounding space. Yet, this lamp is not normal. Even during the day, when it appears to be turned off, it is working to collect the power of the sun, to later supply clean and bright light to the area. The story then continues. Whether it’s contributing to a city’s sustainability efforts, keeping an area safe, or providing light to a community that would otherwise go without, this lamp is making a huge impact.

    With advancing technology and declining prices, we are in the midst of a solar revolution. Contributing to the spread of this clean energy source, Philips is helping to implement Solar LED lighting solutions around the world, making light accessible to all. These three stories are projects that show how solar LED lighting is making an impact across the globe in individual’s lives and small communities.

    During nighttime in the remote village of Mukim Sukang you may find children gathered together playing games or absorbed in their studies as the village around them bustles with activity. This sight may seem like an average, everyday occurrence. Yet, prior to 2013 Mukim Sukang went silent after dark.

    With an estimated population of 130 residents and 3 hours from the nearest city, the village is off the electrical grid. Therefore, the citizens once relied on a diesel generator that was refueled on a bi-weekly basis. With the scarcity of this resource, residents had to conserve diesel usage by restricting nighttime activities to only what was necessary. This kept residents secluded to their homes at night, where they would sparingly use the light powered by generator.

    unilevel factory
    With the implementation of solar LED streetlights, the once dark village is as vibrant at night as it is during the day. The eco-friendly, electricity free lights illuminate key areas of the village, such as the school, community hall, and hospital. Now when night falls on Mukim Sukang, instead of rushing inside the residents are greeted by bright lights, inviting them to stay outside to spend time with the rest of the community. The dark is no longer a restriction for the residents; it’s a time to gather.

    Unilever is global company that produces well-known brands such as Axe, Dove, Lipton, and Sunsilk, and is committed to the environment. The corporation has a goal of cutting its carbon footprint in half by 2020. As a result, their new production plant in Khamgoan, India was designed with sustainable lighting in mind. Proper lighting is crucial to the plant, which uses chemicals to produce deodorants and antiperspirants, in keeping it safe and preventing any unauthorized access.

    To provide the plant with sufficient lighting to keep the plant safe, while still remaining true to its environmental standard, Unilever turned to solar LED lighting. While this system has helped reduce energy costs, its implications extend even further. The success of this project has led Unilever to use similar solar lighting solutions in the company’s 36 other factories in India. Moreover, Lighting has helped Unilever India to reduce its C02 emissions by nearly 37% since 2008. As Unilever works to set the standard of environmental business practices around the globe, the initiative to implement solar lighting in their factories may just convince similar corporations to do the same.

    Romang Tangaya
    The village of Romang Tangaya is located on a bed of a rice field and is accessible only by small rivers. Like Mukim Sukang, electricity is not accessible to its remote location, preventing residents from participating in religious, social, economic, and educational activities after dark. Romang Tangaya is just one of the many villages in Indonesia facing this issue, calling for a widespread solution. 
    Romang Tangaya

    In 2009, Philips Lighting Indonesia started the Kampung Terang Hermat Energi (KTHE) program, which roughly translates to “Illuminating villages through Energy Savings.” The project is bringing solar lighting to villages like Romang Tangaya. Philips collaborated with local governments and the non-profit organization Kopernik, who used their extensive knowledge of the region to help determine which villages were most in need. The initiative brought light to nine villages in South Sulawesi and 100 solar indoor systems in places such as private homes, health clinics, mosques, and community meeting spaces. Because of this collaborative effort, for the first time in villages in like Romang Tangaya, the residents have access to clean, artificial light.


    We don’t often think about the path from the energy source to bulb. Yet with solar LED lighting, the path is clear; we can look outside and see directly where the power is coming from. Each solar lamp may tell a different story, and whether these stories take place in a big city or rural village the conclusion is the same; Solar lighting is changing the way we think about light.