Scope of using Plastic solar bulbs in Kashmir to illuminate interiors

Mukhtar Dar,

Abstract: Renewable solar energy sources and technologies remain the key aspect to provide solutions to the longstanding energy problems being faced by the developing countries over past decade, however large chunk of families are still behind in utilizing the solar energy. This paper will argue how the solar bottle bulb is made out of a used plastic soda bottle or water bottle, which is filled with water and liquid bleach, can illuminate low-income households with light and reduce the high electricity bills of industries, houses, schools etc. with a simple technology that require a plastic waste.

Introduction: In many of the poor and the congested areas the people still live in places that require electricity to illuminate the interior surrounding in day. Either, the infrastructure is erected very compact and closer together or due to poverty there houses are built in a way that natural sun light cannot pass into the building resulted that their occupants rely thoroughly on electricity or burning kerosene lamps indoors, to provide lighting to the interior surrounding (Wang ,Rahim, Yusif, Rahman, How, 2014).

Such families, houses and offices are available in abundant number in Jammu and Kashmir that requires electricity to illuminate in daytime. And on the other hand Jammu and Kashmir is facing electricity crises over the decades and it is becoming costly by every passing day. The frequent power cuts over expensive bills and unavailability of electricity in many areas and communities continues to reel under darkness. This can be estimated by finance minister 2017-18 Power budget speech as he said, among the total 23 lakh households in the erstwhile state. Three lakh households are still not electrified. Despite high level of public spending, the power situation on the ground–in winter in Kashmir and in summers in Jammu hasn’t improved. Power sector and supply is concerned, “money is not a binding constraint. As we speak, the Government is ready to buy more power and supply it down the line. But for now that is not the solution. Even if we buy more power today, we cannot carry it because of transmission and distribution capacity constraints. And these, unlike a money constraint which can be overcome overnight, are hard constraints.” After Modi led NDA government stripped off special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the government had started to make electricity private. The cost of electricity will became twice as costly for the consumer and for the poor it will be a harder the private company will recover the money it spends on power supply by increasing rates, which will be at least double or triple than the current ones. Most of the people won’t be able to pay them (Kashmir Reader, 2021) To cope with such issue, the simple technology using solar bottle bulb made out of a used plastic bottle, which is filled with water and liquid bleach, can illuminate low-income households with light and have capabilities to reduce the high electricity bills and will help in load shedding. The invention is a highly effective and excessively cheap option for those without other sources of indoor lighting (Wang, Rahim, Yusif, Rahman, How, 2014).

Background: Inspired by the frequent electricity blackouts, the Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser in 2002, with his innovation illuminated his house during the days without electricity – using nothing more than plastic bottles filled with water and a tiny bit of bleach. The innovation drastically spread out throughout the globe and light up many households. The innovation helped thousands of population living below the poverty line to light up their houses without paying the expensive electricity bills. It was believed that the solar bottle bulb could produce equivalent to the range of 40 to 60 watt incandescent bulb depending on the weather condition (Fonseca et al., 2013).
The first solar bottle bulb was invented and installed in Brazil, but the world was not aware about it until the My Shelter Foundation in the Philippines took an initiate to work on this idea. In 2011, the organization had installed 10,000 bottles in the Philippines and in Short span of time they reached 15,000 installations. The foundation worked together with students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to spread it to the world. The project is named “A Liter of Light” or locally called “Isang Litrong Liwanag”. The project ‘Liter of Light’ is widely distributing and it has spread beyond Southeast Asia to over 15 countries like India, Nepal, and several others in South America and Africa to produce the solar bottle bulbs. Recognised by the UN Habitat as one of the top global innovations in sustainability, Liter of Light will be presenting its work at the Dubai Expo 2021(Curry stone foundation, 2018).
This project is a sustainable lighting project, which aims to bring eco-friendly solar bottle bulb to unprivileged communities around the world to light up their homes. However, the solar bottle bulbs are not only used by poor people but the innovation is being utilized in buildings, restaurants, industries and educational institutions as well (Wang, Rahim, Yusif, Rahman, How, 2014).
Pradeep Chanti bring the project of Liter of light in India. The first trial was done in a rural village, Vikrabad, in Telangana in 2011 and it was successful. Later, Mr. Ranjeet Gakhare, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and Mr. Chaitanya Reddy from Cornell University joined Pradeep to spread the innovation to all over India. With the support of several NGOs and various organizations, awareness, campaigns and workshops were conducted in various cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Jalpaiguri, Delhi, etc to spread the innovation (YouTube, 2013).
Scope of using Plastic solar bulbs in Kashmir: The Jammu and Kashmir witnesses’ regular unscheduled power cuts. The Power Development Department, which is responsible transmission and distribution of electric power in the erstwhile state failed to follow the electricity schedule. Frequent power cuts have pushed people to reel under darkness. PDD department claims that power cuts were enforced by “excessive overloading” (Ahmad, 2019). Other than that among 23 lakh households in of Jammu and Kashmir three lakh households are still not electrified (Greater Kashmir, 2017). In an endeavor to cope with the irregular electricity supply, people in the Kashmir Valley are shifting towards solar panels and solar-powered lamps to illuminate their houses. The shortage and unscheduled power cuts makes these solar products on a high demand in the Valley (Business Standard,2018 ) However, there are some drawbacks around solar lighting product, such as access, affordability, technical and maintenance difficulties (Mondal, 2010). The cost of these solar products are very high due to which only those people who are economically good are enable to buy these product in Kashmir. Poor still use lighted wood sticks and candles or lanterns to light up households (Saha, 2015).
The Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar is the largest urban centre in the whole Himalayan Region. A significant number of families live in decayed, overcrowded houses in the Downtown area of the city. These houses are densely constructed with a space of less than a meter apart and daylight hardly pass in these houses (Kuchay, Bhat,Shafi, 2016). And in the Far-flung area of J&K, Gujjars and Bakerwals are living in hilly mountainous areas near forests. Mostly, their houses are constructed of mud which is called ‘Kotha”. Oftenly, the condition of these Kothas is very bad. It contains one big room with only one door. There is no window in this Kotha. On one side of this big room they raise a small place enclosed by mud to serve as kitchen. Fire is kept burning uninterruptedly and other are living in makeshift homes. Electricity has not touched their doorstep yet (Daily Excelsior, 2017). Apart from it, most of the school in Jammu and Kashmir are without electricity that can be estimated by the fact that 70 percent of government schools at elementary level in Jammu and Kashmir lacks electricity (Newsnow,2019). State’s 2016 Economic Survey Report that among the 24,655 total habitations in the erstwhile state, 11,006 or 45% were unelectrified, de-electrified, or partially electrified as on October 2013(Naqash, 2017).
People are searching alternative to cope with lighting problem. The solar Products are being widely used for indoor lighting as it yields good results and make positive impact on poor people’s lives and improved the education opportunities by meeting most or all of the occupants’ lighting requirements (Cherni and Hill, 2009). Globally the governments are also trying to tackle the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) that generated during production and use of electricity as it is one of the major contributors to global warming. Using solar lighting during the day can reduce dependence on electrical energy potentially up to twelve hours. It is a significant initiate to reduce the typical energy consumption that will ease the environment. This can be achieved by using natural light during the daytime, through the implementation of alternative day lighting systems for housing lighting. Currently various models and technologies about interior lights exists and different solar lighting models are in use in different places. An invention that uses simple materials such as plastic bottles (polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle) filled with clean water with addition of some bleach to illuminate the dark interiors of buildings .This invention can provide a great amount of light by using the least amount of money as all the material needed to create the solar bottle bulb can be easily found in daily life and with simple technology it can be made. The innovation has been used in many places across globe and it has made positive change. The trend of using solar bottle bulbs does not remain confined to poor households. People start to install solar bottle bulbs in their buildings. For example, one Japanese restaurant named “Mifune Japanese Restaurant” in Dumaguete, Philippines used solar bottle bulbs to provide lighting within their restaurant (Wang ,Rahim, Yusif, Rahman, How, 2014).
The innovation is spreading in India with the help of “Litter of light India”. They are working in collaboration with my shelter foundation philippines under the guidance of litter of lights global leader Illac Diaz. They have conducted workshop in Mumbia, Hyderabad, Delhi and other cities as well. They are planning to spread the innovation in more cities. The J&K government, NGO,s, Universities and colleges can come forward to encourage the litter of lights India to conduct workshops and collaborate with them to utilize the innovation in Jammu and Kashmir and socialize people about it.
Conclusion: Nowadays there are a lot of inventions and technologies related to light bulbs, but their cost is too much for the people living in poverty. They can’t tolerate the cost of these technologies and they are difficult to maintain and technically complicated. The solar bottle light bulbs, an invention that is simple and cost effective enough to be utilized in huge numbers. The invention is a highly effective and excessively cheap option for those without other sources of indoor lighting. The device requires only a bottle, some roofing materials, water, and minimal amounts of commonly found chemicals. This innovation can provide a great amount of light by using the least amount of money as all the material needed to create the solar bottle bulb can be easily found in daily life.

It simply means it can be made at home as it does not require too much knowledge and equipment’s. Thus it will generate employment as and it will reduce the waste of plastic bottles. There are many household and institutions in Jammu and Kashmir that require lights during day as they remain dark. Even nowadays, residential houses and other government and private units requires 24 hours lighting to lit their interior environment mostly due to densely infrastructure light can’t pass during daytime. The Schools, government buildings and underprivileged section of society are thoroughly relying on electricity. The electricity in Jammu and Kashmir is becoming too expensive and it doesn’t remain available all the day as the frequent power cuts are daily phenomena. This simple technology can illuminate interior of buildings and they can’t remain dependent on electricity. The need is to spread the innovation.

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