Realization of a zero-carbon, zero-waste, and car-free city may seem futuristic—but it has already begun. In February 2008,the government of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates broke ground on Masdar City. Because they live in developing or emerging countries that cannot or do not set up a permanent power supply network, an estimated 1.6 billion people around the world still rely on traditional oil lamps to perform nightly tasks.


This solar-powered
“Energy Hub” will allow Kenyans near Lake
Victoria to recharge small electrical appliances
and reduce their dependence on kerosene.

Around Lake Victoria in Kenya, about 30 million people stave off darkness by burning kerosene lamps. Not only is it harmful to their health, according to Siemens subsidiary and lighting manufacturer, OSRAM, burning kerosene for light emits 67 tons of CO2 each year in Africa—almost equal to Finland’s annual CO2 emissions. Globally, the figure swells to 190 million tons.

To alleviate this problem, OSRAM constructed an off-grid kiosk-like solar station called an “Energy Hub” (Figure-1). The project was piloted in Mbita, a small town on the banks of Lake Victoria, which is easily accessible by locals who need to charge electrical appliances such as rechargeable lamps and cell phones inexpensively. The project’s success has prompted OSRAM to open three more Energy Hubs in the region.

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