S’pore invention wins green award

little sun

THE Singaporean creator of a solar lamp that made an appearance at the London 2012 Olympics has won a prize at the Energy Globe Awards, considered the world’s most prestigious environmental award.

Dubbed Little Sun, the lamp won the national award for best submission from Singapore.

The hand-size, waterproof plastic lamp in the shape of the sun was built by Dr Irene Lee, an artist and environmental entrepreneur.

It was first launched and sold at London’s Tate Modern museum during the Olympic Games. Proceeds from this funded its distribution to remote villages in Ethiopia without electricity.

More than 50,000 Little Suns have since been taken to parts of Asia and Africa, including Laos, Indonesia and Zimbabwe, Dr Lee told The Straits Times. Charging it under the sun for five hours provides between four and 10 hours of light, depending on brightness.

Villagers would otherwise have to use kerosene lanterns or candles after sunset.

The lamp was conceived by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and built by Dr Lee.

In April, the project received a US$5 million (S$6.3 million) investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, a foundation set up by former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to support good causes.

Dr Lee, the founder of Dilco Solar, a solar energy consultancy, wants to use the funds to help more of the underprivileged.

“I’ve only scratched the surface. There are 1.6 billion people in the world without (electrical) lighting. There’s a long way to go,” she said.

The Energy Globe Awards, announced yesterday on World Environment Day, are supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

This year’s top award went to a Nicaraguan project that makes solar-powered ovens for villagers to cook in. Previous top submissions from Singapore include Grand Hyatt Singapore’s gas generator that simultaneously heats water and cools the hotel lobby.

Little Sun’s high profile has made it an art collectible. It can be bought for $45 at the ArtScience Museum, $38 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and $35 at the Tate Modern in London.

Story: 06 June 14  The Straits Times  by DAVID EE
Photo: http://www.littlesun.com/index.php?sec=about

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