Instructions: Use this area to post information on actual projects in the field (here's an example). These may be research or pilot projects, or full-blown roll-outs to broad markets. To add a project, simply create a post (below). Copy the following bold headings into your post and fill in your project's info. You can come back any time and update the information. If you are just browsing and see data with which you disagree or have the ability to update, please communicate first with the Contact Person listed in the post before doing so.

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  • Project name: How can WLED technology bring high quality, affordable light to India’s poor?
  • Dates: 2007
  • Location (town/city/country & Map Link): Kutch, Gujurat, India (villages of Sudhamavaas and Paiya)
  • Contact person: Josh Apte (
  • Organizations involved: UC Berkeley Students & Lumina Project
  • Sponsors: UNIDO, HAAS Business School,  Blum Center for Developing Economies
  • Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: Variety of LED flashlights, lanterns, and task lights
  • Photos: see reports
  • Project description & results:
    India is home to one-third of the world’s unelectrified population. The vast majority of these
    people obtain their basic lighting needs from fuel-based technology such as kerosene
    lanterns. The energy efficiency and downward scalability of white light emitting diodes
    (WLEDs) make them an excellent candidate to be a leapfrog technology, much like cell
    phones, for the rural developing world. However, in order to stimulate this market, it is
    important for light manufacturers, financiers and the end-users to recognize its potential.
    The objective of our work was to investigate the means by which WLEDs can benefit India’s
    unelectrified and under-electrified population. We worked in 34 households across two
    villages, Sudhamavaas and Paiya, in the Kutch district of Gujarat with help of Sahjeevan, a
    local NGO.

    We found that only two households did not use any form of light at all. Of the rest, all used
    some type of kerosene lamp as their primary source of light. The most common kerosene
    lamp was a home made wick lantern that was used by 26 households. A flashlight product
    with incandescent bulbs powered by dangerous wet lead acid batteries was the most common
    lighting source outside of kerosene lamps. All the families spent approximately Rs. 90 (USD
    2.5) each month for lighting, which made up between 3 and 10 percent of each family’s
    income. The most common uses of their lights were cooking and for night time security. The
    median duration of light use for just these two tasks was 6 hrs / night. Most households
    reported difficulty in accomplishing any task with their existing sources of light and
    expressed a desire for better light quality. Among the 12% of households that were involved
    in home based income generation (making of handicrafts), all expressed a strong desire for
    improved lighting for that activity.

    All households reported that every task was easier with their randomly assigned WLED
    product. Almost all families switched to using the WLED product for the tasks of highest
    priority like cooking and security at night. However most families continued to use their
    kerosene lanterns although all of them used those for substantially shorter durations each day.
    Each of the WLED products was rated as either good or very good by all respondents.
    Families showed a strong aversion to renting any of the WLED products and preferred to
    own with a one-time payment. All families were willing to pay a higher amount for the
    WLED product that they used than they do presently for any light sources.
    Finally, we found that local retailers of light products expect a six month manufacturer
    guarantee and 20 to 30% markup over wholesale prices. Further, supply chains reach the
    Indian hinterland over poorly paved roads in trucks where goods are poorly protected.
    Overall, we found unanimously positive responses to WLED lights and an active willingness
    to pay for them. It is clear that product designs need improvement, the specifics of which we
    have conveyed to each manufacturer. It is also clear that there is enough room in the market
    for each manufacturer to produce multiple products each targeted at a different use. If both
    manufacturers and financial intermediaries find a way to overcome the challenges of product
    distribution, they can benefit commercially while meeting a basic human need for billions.
  • Links to other docs:
  • Apte, J., A. Gopal, J. Mathieu, and S. Parthasarathy. 2007. "Improved Lighting for Indian Fishing Communities." [PDF]
  • Apte, J., M. Fuller, A. Gopal, and K. Lindgren. 2007. "Developing the Means for the Use of Modern Lighting: How can WLED technology bring high quality, affordable light to India's poor?" [PDF]
  • Apte, J., A. Gopal, J. Mathieu, and S. Parthasarathy. 2007. "Improved Lighting for Indian Fishing Communities." [PDF]

Evan - thanks for this case study, very informative.  I suppose its worth noting that since is India, the Rs.90/month for kerosene is the government subsidized price, and the total societal financial cost (household plus government) is even higher.  

Excellent point.

Those costs can run, but they cannot hide!

  • Project name: Lighting needs and options for Tibetan Yak-herders
  • Location (town/city/country & Map Link): five villages in the Lhasa area of Tibet and one village in the Shannan area
  • Contact person: Evan Mills (
  • Organizations involved: Lumina Project (LBNL) and Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley
  • Dates: July-August 2004
  • Sponsors: UC Berkeley-UNIDO Bridging the Divide Fellowship.
  • Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: Focus groups comparing CFL and LED lights.  No products distributed for permanent use.
  • Links to other docs: Jones, R., J. Du, Z. Gentry, I. Gur, and E. Mills. 2005. "Alternatives to Fuel-based Lighting in China." [PDF]
  • Project description and results:
    • Despite high rates of electrification in China, 25 to 30 million people remain without access to
      electricity. This population, as well as those with only intermittent access, must rely on alternate
      sources of power for their lighting needs. This paper presents a comparison of available off-grid and grid-based lighting options in terms of performance and economics, which is then contextualized using a case study of semi-nomadic populations in rural Tibet. Fuel-based lighting is shown to be significantly more costly than solar-powered compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and solar-powered light-emitting diode (LED) alternatives per unit of lighting services delivered. We calculate that a hurricane-style kerosene lamp costs approximately $0.40 per thousand lumen hours (klmh) or $2.89 per thousand lux hours (klxh), while a solar-CFL lantern costs $0.17/klmh and $1.20/klxh and a solar-LED device costs $0.15/klmh and $0.03/klxh. Furthermore, as LED efficiencies continue to improve, solar-LED products will become even more economical.

      Three focus groups and 15 household interviews were held among off-grid populations in rural Tibet to gauge response to LED technologies. LEDs were universally ranked below CFL alternatives, primarily due to the directional nature of the LED devices exhibited, but were still ranked above all non-electric sources of light. Diffusing optics may thus need to be incorporated into solar-LED lighting systems before they are rated as more attractive for general illumination than solar-CFL systems. Accordingly, those surveyed placed a high value on the use of LED bulbs for flashlight applications. Finally, we note that despite the potential benefits of LEDs, market forces are not likely to spur innovation in solar-LED lighting options for the unelectrified populations of Tibet, as the design of these systems is dominated by the governmental bodies subsidizing their distribution. Unless this structure changes, the future development of LED-lighting technologies will depend on top-down investment from the central
      and local governments.
  • Project name: Nepal Better Lighting Project
  • Location (town/city/country & Map Link): Namarkhu, Lamjung District, Nepal
  • Photos:
  • Contact person: Mitchell Silver
  • Organizations involved:
  • Dates: 2010-2013
  • Sponsors: Black Diamond Equipment
  • Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: 200 LED lanterns powered by centralized solar charging stations
  • Links to other docs:
  • Project description and results:200 homes illuminated so far. working with the women in the villages there has been very enthusiastic response to the switch from kerosene wick lamps to rechargeable LED lights with NiMH batteries powered by PV.
  • Project name: Lighting Asia / India Program
  • Location (town/city/country & Map Link): Rural India (Off-Grid states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan etc)
  • Photos:
  • Contact person: Anjali/ Mansi
  • Organizations involved: IFC, Member of the World Bank
  • Dates:  2012 –  2015
  • Sponsors: Donors US Deptt of State, Govt of Italy
  • Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: Solar Lanterns, Solar home Systems, Solar Powered Micro  /Mini Grids 
  • Links to other docs:  (go to Quick links for document download)

 Project description:

Why Off-Grid Lighting?

An estimated 800 million people in Asia are without access to energy, of which 400 million people are in India of which 94 percent are in rural areas. Another 420 million people in India face significant under-electrification. This population relies on fuels such as charcoal, firewood, kerosene, paraffin, candles and throw-away torches with disposable batteries. Fuel-based lighting is expensive, inefficient, hazardous, and contributes to green house gas emission. Poor quality light also hinders the development of small enterprises and impedes learning in schools and homes.

India spends an estimated $2.2 billion annually on kerosene for lighting. This represents a vast, largely untapped opportunity for the off-grid lighting sector. There are opportunities to meet the needs of this off-grid population with renewable energy based solutions like solar lighting appliances and renewable energy mini-grids. These alternatives offer better, cleaner, safer light, and in addition, the mini-grids and lanterns’ lifecycle costs can be lower than other fuel alternatives especially for the people at the base of the pyramid.

India’s Off-Grid Lighting Sector

Improving energy infrastructure is a priority for the Indian government. There are existing policy efforts to tackle this challenge of energy access, notably India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy's (MNRE) rural electrification programs. The MNRE has a vision of providing 20 million households with solar lighting by 2022.  The MNRE is implementing this through several initiatives that drive demand and ensure the supply of off-grid lighting solutions to address this challenge. It has also mobilized the state level agencies, local institutions as well as non- governmental and village level organizations for the implementation.

 Challenges in the sector remain significant and the market needs to facilitate access to energy and light, through both government lead programs and the private sector. There is a scarcity of commercially successful business models for rural off-grid lighting. Suppliers of private off-grid energy face challenges including estimating the market size, planning loads, identifying sites, assessing consumer ability and willingness to pay, all of which makes business planning to attract financing difficult. In addition, a key market barrier is the inability of consumers and financial institutions to distinguish between good and poor quality products. 

 Lighting Asia/India Program

 In the context of IFC’s strategy to promote clean growth in the country, IFC has launched the Lighting Asia Program, of which the first focus country is India.  The program will leverage existing initiatives to help catalyze private off-grid lighting market in India.  It will help the value chain that covers commercial supply and demand opportunities, i.e., manufacturing, distribution, supply chain management and access to finance. It will draw on the existing Lighting Africa program of the World Bank Group.

The program will help address market barriers to a private sector led scale up relevant to lighting and to renewable energy distributed mini-grids. In India, the program will work to increase access to energy and provide better lighting to two million people . The program will work with the private sector to make cleaner, safer and less costly alternative lighting options available to those with limited or no access to the grid.


What does Lighting Asia/ India program do?

The Lighting Asia program will work in the following areas to enable energy access

  • Providing information on market size, consumer preferences and behavior, business models, and distribution channels that enables companies to design quality products and facilitates their entry into the market.
  • Setting and rolling out an international quality standard for off-grid lighting products -  Supporting Quality standards and building local testing capacity
  • Facilitating access to finance for small and medium enterprises, technology enablers and other facilitators
  • Knowledge Management and Industry Mobilisation  – Acting as an information and best practices hub for the off grid lighting program and dissemination of market intelligence information  

 Lighting Asia/India has already tied up with a number of partners for achieving it's clean energy objectives. These partners include manafactuters of solar products (solar appliances and micro/mini grids), technology partners and testing labs. Currently it's partners include


  • Support Simpa  Energy India Pvt. Ltd in the roll-out of its ‘pay as you go’ approach towards energy payment.  It’s innovative, flexible,  pre payment mode for energy, based on the mobile prepaid mechanism  is being piloted and scaled up to create an affordable payment model
  •  Support TERI in capacity building of it’s product testing facilities. The enhanced testing standards and laboratory will enable TERI  to meet    international and national quality assurance standards.
  • Support Minda Nexgen Tech Ltd. to develop and implement the innovative Rural Solar Entrepreneurs (RSE) model for it’s micro/ mini grid business
  • Work with Gautam Polymers to identify potential areas of efficiency improvements in production, quality management, inventory and after sales functions for it’s solar products business  

Hi - fantastic study, but I had trouble with the document download on the Lighting Africa website.  I found the report posted here:  I sent a comment to Lighting Africa support so hope it'll be fixed soon.  This is excellent research and should be widely disseminated.

Thanks, micheal, glad you found the report useful . Will also take it up with support to fix this problem .Cheers

Project Name: Nuwara Eliya - Lake foot path lighted with LED street lamp project.

Location:Nuwara Eliya /  Sri Lanka /

Contact Person: Mr.Chameera Dinatth, Environment Consultant/

Sponsors: Gaia Solutions(pvt)ltd.

Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed:LED roadway lamps

Nuwara Eliya  is a city, in the hill country of the Central Province, Sri Lanka. The city name meaning is "city on the plain (table land)" or "city of light". The city is the administrative capital of Nuwara Eliya District, with a picturesque landscape and temperate climate. It is located at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) and is considered to be the most important location for Tea production in Sri Lanka. The city is overlooked by Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka.

Gregory Lake was build under the period of British Governor Sir William Gregory in 1873. This is the most prominent attraction in Nuwara Eliya and all the vistors used to come here and spent some time by the lake and relax. This was used as a place for water sports and for re-recreational activities during the British time. Graory lake gets crowded during the April tourist season.

 With the recent face upliftment in Nuwara eliya area, many recreation facilities introduced around the Gregory lake area. You can buy a ticket and visit the Lake park and enjoy your evening by the lake. If you like to have a boat ride, there are several people offer that service. If you like to ride your own, there are two sweater Swan Boats for hire. Kids may like to have a pony ride.

GAIA tries to make a cleaner greener energy for better tomorrow..........  

  • Project name:  illumination Pakistan
  • Location (town/city/country & Map Link):
  • Photos:
  • Contact person: Shane Thatcher, Liz Aitken
  • Organizations involved: IOM, Hands
  • Dates: November 2011 to date (Ongoing)
  • Sponsors: DFID, USAid, JapanAid,
  • Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: Mandarin solar lamps, To Date: 145,000
  • Links to other docs:
  • Project description and results:

This is an ongoing project being undertaken by the International Organisation for Migration and some NGO's to distribute solar lamps to refugees in Pakistan. The lights are funded by the aid arms of governments that are signatories to the IoM charter.

The lights are distributed in various Provinces in Pakistan.


Project name: Charging Stations in Africa and India

Dates: ADPP Mozambique was founded in 1982

Location (town/city/country & Map Link): Changalane (Maputo Province) and Quissanga (Cabo Delgado Province) in Mozambique and Andhra Pradesh in India

Contact person: Dr. CV Rao of Prakruthi Power, email for ADPP:

Organizations involved: Prakruthi Power (Global Telelinks), ADPP Mozambique, NATCO Trust


Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: 74 solar charging systems each equipped with 60 solar lanterns (Mozambique), bicycle mobile chargers (India)


Project description and results: ADPP Mozambique sees energy access as one of the main elements they can use to help eradicate poverty and increase human development. When providing people in off-grid living situations with energy services the two key  things to consider are affordability and accessibility.

The number of mobile devices in off-grid regions of Africa and India have increased greatly. Mobile devices can help farmers immensely, giving them access to information on weather forecasts and the availability of seeds and fertilizers. They are used so much that people are willing to travel up to 3km every couple of days to spend 2-3 hours somewhere where they can charge their phones. This costs someone nearly half a US dollar on charging and commuting each time.

ADPP Mozambique has teamed up with Prakruthi Power to come up with alternate, less expensive solutions. One solution they came up with was to set up a solar charging station, a room whee lanterns and mobile phones are directly charged from two charging devices, each with 20 ports and powered by a mono-crystalline panel installed on the roof. They set up two stations in Changalane (Maputo Province) and Quissanga (Cabo Delgado Province) in the Republic of Mozambique and taught locals how to, who then set up 72 more on their own.

A fully charged lantern gives 10-40 hours of light, so lantern owners only have to return to the charging stations after 2-3 days, where they spend a small fee for each charging. This program has significantly impacted people in these communities, saving them time and money on phone charging, and giving them reliable lighting for studying, cooking, and activities such as sewing and basket making.

Prakruthi Power also collaborated with NATCO Trust to create a program for solar entrepreneurship in Andhra Pradesh, India. 40% of India's urban and rural population suffer from 4-12 hour power cuts. To counter act this Prakruthi Power has created a range of LED and lithium-Ion combination based lights that can be charged by stand-alone charging systems.

These stand-alone charging systems were given to young solar entrepreneurs who carry the panel and USB cords on their bikes, then go from village to village charging people's mobile devices and lanterns. Around 50 devices, phones and lanterns, can be charged this way each day, and the entrepreneur can earn between $2.50 and $4.50 US dollars.

Prakruthi Power is now working on solutions for solar laptop and kindle charging, as well as empowering schools with solar power.

Project name: Light Up the World Sri Lanka

Dates: April 2003

Location (town/city/country & Map Link): Knuckles Range, Sri Lanka

Contact person:Dave Irvine-Halliday, president

Organizations involved: LUTW and University of Moratuwa

Sponsors: Arthur Child Foundation, Greystone Environmental Consulting, Don Perera

Number and type(s) of lighting systems deployed: LED Luxeon Lamps

Project description and results: In 2003, with help from the University of Moratuwa engineering students, Light Up the World succeeded in installing lights into two villages in the Knuckles Range of Sri Lanka. With each of LUTW's successes, demands for their services increase. After illuminating these first two villages in Sri Lanka , the community requested that they help the entire Knuckles Range, population 5,000.

Inhabitants of small villages scattered throughout the countryside, such as these, are the poorest of the poor in Sri Lanka and have little chance and next to no hope of linking their homes to the grid. Residents' incomes depend on farming plots of land where their harvests are small and vulnerable, bringing in between $350-500 USD a year. A large portion of that then goes to the annual costs of kerosene, wood, and candles, used to produce what little light they can.

This same amount of money is nearly equivalent to the one time cost of LUTW's LEDs. Not only are these LEDs ultimately less expensive and produce better light, they are healthier and safer for both their owners and the environment. Kerosene is highly inflammable, and overturned lamps cause death and disfiguring burns to thousands each year. According to Lawrence-Berkeley National Labs, “the single-greatest way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions associated with lighting energy use in developing countries is to replace millions of kerosene lamps with white LED lighting systems.”

These lights allow for reading, studying, and working after dark, impacting people's social, economic, and physical lives. They improve the education of children, women, and the illiterate, and enhance income and gender equity.

LUTW and other off-grid lighting organizations, such as these that are a part of the LuminaNET community, have the power to change lives. Two Billion people around the world, in the Philippines, India, Afghanistan, the Galapagos Islands, Mexico, Sri Lanka, and even privileged America, live without light. Anyone who can go home and flip a switch as they walk through their door, can help, and it is said that those who can, must.

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