Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
On Saturday, the Telegraph (one of Britain's main broadsheet newspapers) carried an informative article in the technology page by reporter Matt Warman, under the title, "A ray of sunshine for Haiti". You can read the full article online here. It begins,
Dutch mobile phone firm Intivation has donated 1,000 of its solar-powered handset to the earthquake-stricken Caribbean country. Haiti’s prime minister has described the damage done to his country by January 12’s earthquake as “a disaster on a planetary scale”. Earlier this week Jean Max Bellerive spoke of nearly a quarter of a million homes destroyed, 300,000 people injured and 200,000 dead – and nearly a month after the event itself, Port au Prince was still nowhere near resurrecting its power system.The concept of using solar power for mobile phones in energy starved countries is such a good idea, that I thought it merits having some attention drawn to it in this blog. Visit the main Intivation website to learn more about the business, the technology and their products.
But the Caribbean nation’s mobile phone networks were back up within a few days – most within just 24 hours. In a country where mobile phones are owned by one in three people, and massively outnumber landlines, the crucial issue for many residents was not being unable to communicate, it was being able to keep their phones charged. A number of people were saved because they were able to send text messages while they were trapped underneath the rubble from collapsed buildings.
Some entrepreneurs immediately saw a business opportunity – thousands were prepared to pay for 15 minutes connected to a car battery to recharge their mobiles. Dutch mobile phone firm Intivation, however, has long realised that its solar powered handsets were a solution to the problems of Haiti’s unreliable infrastructure. First launched in the Caribbean nation, the devices have subsequently been sold in seven more countries by 11 operators.
The company’s idea is a simple one: in countries in emerging markets, there’s often enough sun to make the latest solar power technology a viable way of charging phones, even in normal use. Where other companies use a number of solar cells, Intivation’s method of using a single, larger cell and adapting the power output is just one feature that makes their technology, on a cloudy day, more than 20 times as efficient as traditional solar technologies.