Up | December 08, 2012
>>> we're sitting here in a well-lit studio in new york city where we take norg granted. there are 1.5 billion people on this planet that do not have reliable access to electricity, and they should. the question is, are they going to -- how is that electricification going to happen? tell me what your organization does?
>> s.e.l.f. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1990 . for the last two decades we bring solar electricity to rural and remolt villages in the developing world . places never connected to a conventional power line and aren't likely to be connected anytime in the foreseeable future. you mentioned reliable electricity. these folks have zero electricity, right? so basically what does that mean?down, these folks retreat into homes light gym dimly if at all by candling sore snowy polluting kerosene lanterns. children can't study at night and center to breathe in the kerosene fumes that are toxic. 1.5 people die every year from indoor air pollution , right? there's nothing they can do to lift themselves out of poverty. they're condemned to live their lives in utter darkness. no way to pump water. no way to refrigerate vaccines. no way to deliver a baby at night. no way to communicate with the outside world , right? so energy poverty undermines every attempt of these people to achieve a better life for themselves. the question as you pointed out is how are these people going to emerge from centuries of darkness into a brighter future is a critical question. do they rely on fossil fuels and centralized power sources? it costs up to $20,000 a mile to extend a grid to these rural villages, so it's not economic to do so. they could fire up a diesel generator , right?
>> which is what a lot of places do do.
>> absent the grid they turn to diesel generators. we're working with a group called partners in hel. well-known organization out of boston delivers health care to the poorest of poor initially in haiti and rwanda and malawi. they used diesel generators because they had no choice to power the hospital. we told them this is a better way. it will cost more up front with a solar solution, but over time they're actually saving money, lots of money. so it's not just a more sustainable way took economicabeconomical economical economically. it's a smarter way.
>> this is about a project in west africa , because it's not just the power and lights. it is a whole revolution in irrigation. take a look.
>> thanks to irrigation, the production is multiplied by ten. the crops are more varied and today maize, tomatoes or salad even grow here.
>> these women can now feed their families all year-round but also earn money and rise from poverty by selling their crops on the markets. commerce has appeared thanks to solar power , a first step towards development.
>> you and i met a few years ago, and you told me about this project. i feel like you should have a budget of a billion dollars. i'm serious. it does seem to me like this is -- we have a -- it's such a crazy conversation about energy in this country and this world, and i know in this country people who are extremely poor and i know a lot of folks that work among populations that are extreme lie poor, your energy bill is a big part of your disposable income. for people relatively after fluent, your cable bill is hire. there's a huge disconnect at the top and bottom of the social pyramid both in the country and globally about how we think about energy and its price. we can have a system that's both equitable and also sustainable.
>> yeah. one connection i wanted to draw with this work is you're talking about bringing solar power to people in very austere conditions. others are working in austere conditions right now looking to solar and that's the u.s. military . i did a story about marines in forward bases in afghanistan.
>> off the grid as well.
>> hold that thought because we have great video of that as well and i'm going to play that and talk about what the department of