I know what you are doing this summer: one student’s pursuit to electrify Mexican villages with solar power
When you imagine an average summer for a college student, what comes to mind? You might imagine them lounging poolside. Or you might think about them interning in a big city like D.C. or New York, running to business meetings carrying their boss’s coffee. But how about traveling for three weeks in Queretaro, Mexico with a trunk full of solar panels, to villages without running water or electricity?
This is the dream of Anna Ebers, an Estonian native and a doctoral student at SUNY ESF, who will show solar technology to villagers in Queretaro and interview them about their views on solar power, daily routines and spending habits on energy. Her ultimate goal is to use this information to bring solar power to the villages with the help of SunRazors, a not-for-profit project that she founded to combat energy poverty.
For 27 million people in Mexico, energy poverty is a reality and being connected to the electric grid is a distant dream. Once the sun goes down, candles and kerosene lamps are the only options for light. Children have a hard time doing their homework in the dim and smoky candlelight and adults cannot use their evenings productively. Burning kerosene and wood indoors releases noxious gases, which not only contribute to pollution and deforestation, but also can lead to severe respiratory diseases. In many communities, the lack of electricity in medical centers makes it impossible to refrigerate life-saving medicines. Being bitten by a poisonous snake is really bad news when your village is hours away from the nearest electrified city where you can find anti-venom. Coupled with the challenge of providing pure drinking water, the lack of these basic services greatly hinders development in these communities. However, it also represents an area where affordable solar products, specifically designed for developing nations, can do the most good.
Anna and her team at SunRazors envisage off-grid communities illuminated at night with clean solar electricity, drinking safe water from bacteria-killing solar purifiers. In an effort to make this happen, SunRazors will install solar panels both in homes and in community spaces like schools and medical centers. If you are interested in following Anna’s summer journey through Queretaro, Mexico, “like” the SunRazors’ page at www.facebook.com/SunRazors or follow on Twitter @SunRazors. What are you doing this summer?