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Barefoot College and Microformers shine as innovative power solutions

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Dieu Nalio Chery/AP/File

(Read caption) People install solar panels on the Saint-Michel health center and a fish hatchery in Boucan Carre, Haiti. The panels will provide the town with a dependable electricity supply for the first time. Only a quarter of Haiti's 10 million people has regular access to electricity. In 28 countries, Barefoot College is teaching people to harness solar power for electricity.

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Wherever you live, electricity is an increasing expense. In the developing world, communities have seen this challenge and taken their energy needs into their own hands.

Long-term planning for lightning energy change:
 According to The Guardian,  Barefoot College in India has educated people to harness the sun’s power so their communities become more sustainable and self-sufficient.

Barefoot College launched its solar power course for women in 2005, and already more than 150 women from 28 countries have been trained in electrical and solar engineering. Over 10,000 homes in 100 villages have been solar electrified, saving 1.5 million liters (396,258 gallons) of kerosene and minimizing its negative health effects in homes.

Barefoot College uses technology that is simple so people with low levels of education can use it and earn an income by assisting their fellow community members in installing the solar panels.

Entrepreneurship for collaborative power energy change:
 At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, three budding entrepreneurs – Dan Ludois, Jonathan Lee, and Patricio Medoza Araya – are using recycled parts of old household microwaves to create the “Microformer” – a device that can multiply the low-wattage from a developing country's electrical grid and provide enough electricity to power a few lights, a small refrigerator, and other small electronics on an ongoing basis.

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