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This Low-Cost Solar Invention Can Literally Light up Dreams in Indian Slums!

Sunlight rarely enters the small, cramped rooms in slums.

A small, day and night solar lighting single device with its transparent semi-spherical acrylic upper dome, has the potential to provide low to no-cost lighting to those who need it.

The Micro Solar Dome, is part of a project to design and develop, and put to trial, a low cost lighting system for urban slums and rural areas in India.

Sunlight is a luxury, inside the small, cramped interiors of a slum house.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
Sunlight is a luxury, inside the small, cramped interiors of a slum house.Representative image only. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.

The NB Institute of Rural Technology, headed by solar power expert SP Gon Chaudhuri, has been asked by the Centre to set up solar domes, for urban slums as well as rural areas, in Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, and Chennai.

The Micro Solar Dome, takes light and passes it through a sun-tube with a thin layer of highly reflective coating on the inner wall. A shutter at the bottom of the lower dome, can close it if light isn’t required. This wonderful innovation is fitted with photo-voltaic cells.

Slums suffer from low lighting due to poor ventilation, as sunlight cannot enter the cramped spaces. Switching on electric lights is a necessity, even though they have to brave the heat it gives off.

The Micro Solar Dome, has transformed the lives of around 130 families, in the slums around the Lal Bagh area, Azadpur, North Delhi.

The device is economical, according to Seema, a slum dweller, who told Hindustan Times, that it helps them save Rs 50-Rs 100 a month. This goes a long way, especially when the breadwinner is earning Rs 6500 to Rs 7000 per month, and has many mouths to feed.

A tuition teacher in the same slum, is grateful as well, as the Micro Solar Dome helps bring down electricity costs and illuminates the room better. The kids he teaches are happy as well.

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These light-producing solar domes are a great way to help the urban poor directly use alternative sources of energy. The pilot of the project, in 2016, saw these devices go to slums in Mumbai’s Powai and slums in Delhi, Guwahati, Tripura and Kolkata.

The pilot was a success, as more devices were installed in 2017. As of now, 25,000 such devices have been installed in the slums of Kolkata, Delhi, Pune, Bhopal and Agartala, among others, said SP Gon Chauthuri. The domes have a decade long life-span, with just minimal dusting required, to keep the solar panels clean.

Just two firms, in Kolkata and Mumbai respectively, make these domes. A senior official, from the Department of Science and Technology, mentioned plans of scaling up manufacturing, reaching out to more customers, and cutting costs. That would be great news for those who are in need of low-cost and efficient lighting.


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These Micro Solar Domes, have the potential to bring some light into the lives of those living in difficult conditions. Their dependency on both the slum-dweller and on environmental resources will be minimal, thus ensuring sustainability.

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