Group Awarded for Humanitarian Solar Energy Efforts Overseas

The Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) is one of six winners of the 51st annual Chevron Conservation Awards for bringing solar energy to developing countries.

SELF partners with local governments, nongovernmental organizations, corporations, development banks and community members in developing rural areas to provide solar electric systems that convert sunlight directly into electricity. Since 1990, SELF has helped dozens of developing rural areas use renewable solar power to protect habitat, reduce reliance on fossil fuels and improve their standard of living. For instance, in Jigawa State, northern Nigeria, more than 7,500 people have benefited from solar-generated electricity. “What struck me most was how access to clean water was profoundly impacting the lives and health of the people in these villages,” said Carolyn Gay, team leader for Africa, Office of Policy and International Affairs for the U.S. Department of Energy. “This project has proven to be sustainable, and there is a great potential to replicate it in other parts of Nigeria and throughout Africa.” Solar power gives health clinics the ability to store vaccines and other vital medicines as well as lighting to care for patients at night for the first time. It is used to illuminate classrooms and power computers for children and adults, including bringing wireless Internet access to remote communities. Other examples of SELF’s work include efforts in Bhutan, where SELF partnered with local organizations to bring off-grid power to the Phobjikha Valley to protect the winter habitat for rare black-necked cranes. In Tanzania, SELF partnered with the Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education project to bring environmentally friendly energy to the surrounding countryside. Since its founding in 1954 Chevron Conservation Award recipients have helped protect wildlife, restore wilderness, create natural preserves and parks, and institute educational programs to heighten environmental awareness. Based in Washington, DC, SELF’s “approach offers an environmentally friendly, cost-effective and sustainable solution to problems plaguing the developing world,” said Robert Freling, SELF’s executive director.

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