We all love the idea of coming off the grid and being self sustaining.

Imagine never having to pay another electricity bill.

For some people, the only way they can study, be safe or cook at night is because they have solar powered light to do it with.

A recent article in the Australian Woman’s Weekly (which comes out monthly and as such has been the brunt of many a bad taste joke regarding the words ‘women’s’ and ‘monthly) highlighted the remarkable work of a dozen young women with a competition it is running called ‘Women of the future’.

The article was particularly significant in our household because one of the nominees went to school with my daughter. The young lady is named Emma Colenbrander, and she and her co-founders are working in India to bring sustainable, very low cost, renewable energy devices to India’s urban poor. They are trying to get away from dangerous and polluting kerosene products. So far, their organiSation- called Pollinate Energy- is having an astounding effect.

As I read about what this 26 year old and the other equally young and gifted women nominees were doing, I started looking into amazing advances being made in useful, renewable energy saving devices.

The so called liFePo battery first can to light (if you will pardon the pun) in 1996.

The name stands for lithium iron phosphate, and this is what it is made from. These are the batteries you will find in electric cars buggies, motorbikes and bicycles, as well as solar garden lights, solar security systems and the ‘One laptop per child’ projects laptops.

Safety and health conscious companies and NGO’s like this battery because it contains no heavy metals, and is generally more environmentally friendly than traditional energy sources.

As well as that, they are easy to produce and can be charged by the sun !!!

In the past, the LiFePo battery was not very ‘energy dense’, however this is no longer the case, and the length of time they last and the amount of energy held has brought this more planet friendly power pack into the main steam.

A joint venture between the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation have formed an organization called Lighting Africa. It is here that you will find the greatest uses for the LiFePo battery, and where you can find out about the products now also being used  all over the world in developing nations as well as in India by Pollinate Energy and other Socially responsible organisations and companies.

Lighting Africa provides low cost and safe energy devices for more than 35 million people who would otherwise spend their evening either in the dark, or huddled around kerosene lamps and candles.

When you live in the middle of no where, or you have very little money, or your energy sources are totally unreliable, being off the grid is all you have.

It’s these people for whom this technology is not just a novelty, it’s a life saver.

To find out more about Lighting Africa go to  or to see what is happening in India, check out

And to find out more about innovative young women of the future head to and cast your vote.



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