The Portable Light Project

SUMMARY: Portable Light provides adaptable solar textile kits that enable the world’s poorest people to sew and weave bags, clothing and blankets that harvest energy. Portable Light strengthens local craft cultures to create diverse energy-producing communities with access to mobile networks that are transforming global health care, education and businesses.

PROBLEM SPACE: One-quarter of the world lives without electricity. Glass solar panels are breakable, costly to produce and transport. It takes over two years of use to recover the embodied energy/carbon emissions in glass panels— Earth can’t afford this. Portable Light rethinks the material, form and delivery of clean energy and light.

SOLUTION: Portable Light is a non-profit initiative with an international team of NGO’s, community leaders, anthropologists, doctors, architects and engineers. Portable Light Pilot Projects have been serving communities in Mexico since 2005, with projects now underway in Nicaragua, Haiti, Brazil, South Africa and Kenya.

Our low carbon solar textile kits are inspired from firefly bioluminescence and based on principles of simplicity, adaptability and mobile ‘on demand’ energy and light. We ask: how are the greatest human benefits gained from the smallest, most useful amounts of clean energy? The Portable Light Kit is an affordable 2 watt flexible thin film, a control tray with rechargeable battery and USB port,an LED light, and a textile reflector. About 8 hours of sunlight fully charges the battery, which powers LED light and USB enabled tools, such as medical devices, radios, and cell phones.

The ability to charge a cell phone enables people to bridge distances and benefit from connectivity to mobile SMS technologies that are transforming the organization and delivery of health care, business and education in the developing world. At night, renewable white light for reading, tasks and room illumination extends time in the evening, creating unprecedented opportunities for study and work at home.

Our vision is to build human capacity by integrating clean energy and lighting with the vast, globally diverse knowledge base of textile production. We provide rugged, 12 ounce solar textile kits and training to communities, engaging the community’s rich knowledge of textile skills, and familiarity with textiles as a part of everyday life. This culturally integrated approach facilitates technology adoption, ownership and stewardship among vulnerable women and families and is fundamentally distinct from smokestack mass-production, which homogenizes cultures with a singular product ‘form’. Every PL Flex kit design has a unique beauty that comes from its maker.

CONTACT PERSON: [email protected]