New Vision Renewable Energy is on a mission to bring renewable light and power sources to people who don’t have access to them. And 3M is helping them to do just that. New Vision, a nonprofit organization based in Philippi, W.Va., has distributed nearly 1,200 solar LED lights in over 28 countries around the world. Earlier this year, New Vision approached 3M about making a brighter light by including the 3M(TM) Solar Mirror Film as the backing of their LED light source.
Ruston Seaman, president and CEO of New Vision Renewable Energy, stated, “We’re unique because our solutions are family-sized. We’re not talking about providing large power grids for communities. We’re talking about individual energy systems for families.” The solar powered lamps create a lasting, sustainable change in people’s lives. Families are freed from the hazards and costs of using kerosene fuel, parents feel safer at night, and children can finally pursue their studies. It’s light that will bring healthy, bright futures. “We hope to partner with 3M for years to come as we all find ways to help the most vulnerable people on the planet experience the benefits of 21st century technology and innovation.”
3Mgives, 3M’s global giving and engagement organization, secured a donation of enough Solar Mirror Film for 44,000 lamps. New Vision now has the power to help 44,000 families living in darkness. Recently featured on the 3M Innovation website, Free from Night is a video production showing this unique solution to providing a brighter light at night. Lights that don’t have cords, require outlets or burn harmful substances.
Since January of this year, New Vision has distributed their solar lights to families, churches, schools, orphanages, clinics and villages in Africa and other parts of the world. By partnering with organizations and like-minded nonprofits that have community development managers in-country, New Vision is able to reach the “bottom-of-the-pyramid” or most needy. But lights are not given away. An empowerment model is created by the in-country manager that allows people to help themselves. Whether it is collecting trash in the slums of Kibera in Kenya in exchange for a light or tutoring children at the local learning center or school, lives are touched and people are changed.
A Transformational Moment
“When we were in Kenya showing the people in one village how to assemble our solar cookers,” Seaman said, “a few of the men said, ‘We can make these on our own. The only thing we need from you is shiny paper.’ It was a transformational moment for me. I realized that if all these people needed to improve their lives and stop cutting down the forests was shiny paper, then I was going to find them some shiny paper.” Shortly after that trip, Seaman attended an international solar power show where he developed a relationship with representatives from the Renewable Energy Division.
“I told them what the men in Africa had said and was told that I needed to get in touch with Dan Chen,” Seaman said. “They said he was ‘the keeper of 3M’s shiny paper.’ So we called Dan and explained why New Vision needed his shiny paper to help the poorest people in the world.”
Finding a Partner at 3M
Chen, business development manager, Renewable Energy, agreed to send Seaman’s organization a roll of 3M™ Solar Mirror Film, a highly reflective thin film used in solar thermal and concentrated solar applications.
Not its intended use, this film was chosen for its balance of durability and reflectance. “This product is geared toward large-scale, solar energy-producing applications,” Chen said. “The New Vision application was outside the typical use of our product, but he made a persuasive case for using the film in lighting.” That prompted Renewable Energy to go a step further in providing more material for New Vision’s work in Africa and beyond.
“Our division worked in collaboration with 3Mgives to partner with New Vision,” Chen said.
3M solar mirror film worked perfectly for Seaman’s solar cooker application — so well that he and others at New Vision adapted it to their Portable Solar Power Pack & Light. “We had tried using simple aluminum foil as a reflector, but it wasn’t nearly as effective as the 3M product,” Seaman said. “With 3M’s solar mirror film, the lighting strength is increased by at least 20 percent.” Used within New Vision’s Portable Solar Power Pack & Light, 3M™ Solar Mirror Film creates a much brighter light for New Vision that can be used for whole room lighting now. The light package contains a 10-watt solar panel, a 12-volt lithium-ion battery, LED lights and a recycled carbonite board with the 3M film.
This is all to the benefit of the people who use the lights. New Vision’s lights allow families to avoid the dangers and noxious fumes associated with kerosene lamps. The new lights also allow clinics to remain open past sundown, and children to read books and do homework in a more comfortable environment at night.
“We’re not just giving lights or cookers away,” Seaman said. “Our aim is to help them understand the technology and embrace it. We want them to be able to adapt renewable technologies in ways that we haven’t even imagined.”
ABOUT NEW VISION:
New Vision Renewable Energy is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization launched in Philippi, West Virginia in 2009 as a grassroots Christian Community Development organization working to ReEnergize Communities to implement renewable energy solutions in their own neighborhoods through hands-on community development efforts. New Vision is an educational and innovation movement focusing on applicable technologies with renewable solutions and serves as a hub of collaborative discussion, training and invention bringing together green innovators, community leaders, youth and their mentors, companies, organizations as well as public and private partners. As a member of the United Nations Foundation Energy Access Practitioner Network, New Vision helps to eradicate the effects of poverty in the developing world. For more information, visit www.NVRE.org, follow @ItsNewVision on Twitter or find us on Facebook at New Vision Renewable Energy.
3M captures the spark of new ideas and transforms them into thousands of ingenious products. Our culture of creative collaboration inspires a never-ending stream of powerful technologies that make life better. 3M is the innovation company that never stops inventing. With $30 billion in sales, 3M employs 88,000 people worldwide and has operations in more than 70 countries. For more information, visit www.3M.com or follow @3MNews on Twitter.