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Limited access to technology, from basic electricity to lighting, stifles educational opportunities, economic development, and the improvement of social conditions in emerging and developing countries. Over 1.3 billion people live without electricity today.*
*Source: International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2011
Children in Cambodia who study at night with the light generated by our solar LED lantern.
We have brought renewable lighting to people who live without access to basic electricity at an affordable price. A typical product is the solar LED lantern, which stores solar energy and converts energy into light.
Our solar LED lantern also helps to reduce the serious negative health impacts caused by the black smoke produced by traditional kerosene lamps, which are typically used in many areas lacking electricity. Shifting away from the use of kerosene lamps also reduces concerns about fire and safety. We are also focusing on locally-oriented products, designed with local customers' needs in mind, through our local lifestyle research and analysis.
In April 2011, we donated 1,000 solar LED lanterns to the Project of the Millenium Village of Mbola, Tanzania, which was implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) among other organizations. The solar LED lanterns for this project have been sold at a low price by local Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies, and have provided a number of beneficial uses, for instance: allowing store owners to sell products safely and comfortably at night; and providing school teachers with additional time to prepare lessons for the next day.
Cambodia, a country experiencing steady economic growth as a member of the Greater Mekong Subregion, still suffers from the aftermath of the civil war and various social challenges related to poverty, including poor electrification. In March 2012, we donated 2,000 solar LED lanterns to 15 nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations (NPO/NGOs). The solar LED lanterns are now used for various activities, including literacy education and medical activities at night, and are expected to contribute as a solution to many of the social challenges in Cambodia.
Our solar LED lanterns have not only been used effectively in emerging and developing countries, but also in the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. We donated 4,000 solar LED lanterns immediately following the earthquake. In areas where damages to power infrastructures were great, resulting in virtually no electricity, our solar LED lanterns were particularly beneficial in bringing temporary emergency lighting. From this experience, we developed a compact solar LED light, and began to sell this product in August 2011.
The solar LED lantern is just one example of our broad efforts to apply our technological know-how and innovative strengths to provide more people with access to technologies that address local sustainability needs and improve quality of life. Other products throughout our company have provided similar benefits, including:
Our CUBE air conditioners in India, are developed through local lifestyle research and analysis, and designed to meet local energy conditions while providing a quieter sound during use; and
Our market-specific refrigerators for Indonesia, developed with our low power-consumption technologies and adapted to meet local lifestyles needs, which require larger shelf space and bins to store sufficient drinking water, perishable items, and medicine.
Looking forward, our aim is to continue to develop new, inclusive sustainable business models, and assess the long-term marketability, scalability, and sustainability of these models to bring life-changing technologies to more people around the world, contribute to global development goals, and spur new ideas and business opportunities for Panasonic.
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