Here at Brighter Green, we are looking into developing a solar energy project in the Maasai communities of Kenya, where only 3% of the rural population has access to electricity. Electricity is vital to improving quality of life, safety, and productivity. Harnessing the power of the sun, solar panels will be a sustainable alternative to the burning of biomass, which is not only a health threat to those who use it, but also contributes directly and indirectly to global carbon emissions. Our aim is not simply to promote green energy, but to establish a way for the Masaai communities to manufacture, install, and maintain the technology themselves, thereby invigorating development in the region.
In order to further this effort, myself and research associate Justine Simon went outside in the flowering backyard of Brighter Green in Brooklyn to test out a small solar array to see if we could use something similar for our project in Kenya. Through moments of both vibrant spring sunshine and muted cloud cover, Justine and I toyed with the 30 watt solar panel, a controller, and a battery. We fumbled and scratched our heads, attaching and readjusting until we linked the battery to the controller. To test its conductivity, we connected the controller to a small LED light, and eureka, it worked! Our next immediate step here at Brighter Green will be to figure out how to charge our cell phones using the lightweight solar panel– just another small step bringing us closer to Kenya.