Around a fifth of the world's population has only sporadic access to electricity -- if at all. Panasonic is hoping to lower that number with its latest project.
The Japanese electronics giant this week unveiled its eneloop solar storage system, which acts as a source of power for LED lights and small devices, and is designed for regions with little or no access to electricity.
The system is driven by Panasonic's nickel-metal hydride battery, which stores solar cells during the day and uses that energy to power devices like lights, heaters or TVs. Additionally, the storage unit comes equipped with a USB socket that can charge three fully depleted smartphones.
The eneloop solar storage system is set to be shipped to countries in Asia, such as Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, as well as African countries like Ethiopia and Tanzania. The rollout will begin in November, with other regions expected to follow next year. As well as being distributed through retailers, it'll also be sent to relevant NPOs and NGOs.
There are around 1.3 billion people in the world without sufficient access to power, according to the International Energy Agency. Many places around the world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and poorer areas within South East Asia, rely on light and power generated by typically limited fuels such as kerosene lamps and diesel fuel generators, which can cause various health issues if handled improperly. For the more impoverished countries, such devices can also be costly to maintain and lack portability should there be a demand for mobile power. It's these problems that Panasonic is hoping to help quell.
The storage unit comes with two types of LED lamps, a 1.5-watt bulb and a 5-watt straight tube. The expected lifespan of the solar unit should run at around five years of use and fully charges in approximately 5 hours in direct sunlight due to the high-powered solar panel.
Built sturdy for outdoor environments, the solar storage unit is dust and spray proof. While dust may accumulate, the device is built to withstand internal interference of dust that may compromise the operation of the equipment. The unit is also expected to resist water spray from any direction.