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Olympic Launch of “Little Sun” Aims to Light the World

solar initiatives at the Summer Olympics in LondonThe Olympic torch that burns continuously during the Olympic games has been a part of the modern pre-game ceremonies since 1928, when it was lit by an Electric Utility of Amsterdam employee. In 1936, the torch relay was introduced as the torch was carried from Olympia in Greece (the site of the original Olympics) to Berlin, Germany. Even today, the torch is carried throughout the host country, held by residents in each town who are pillars of their community.

The Summer Olympics in London this year will be no different, as the torch will make its journey across England. The torch remains a symbol of hope, perseverance, and mankind’s progress. But another kind of torch, introduced this month during the London 2012 Festival — a predecessor to and celebration of the Olympic Games in the city — also represents these ideals.

Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist, will be showcasing flower-shaped, solar-powered lamps. These unique lamps, called Little Sun, will be used between July 28th and September 23rd for visitors to the Tate Modern to view the museum’s surrealist collection in — let’s say — a new light. During these Tate Blackout events, the museum will be dark except for the glow of these solar-powered lamps.

Eliasson says he created the lamps to provide power to energy-poor segments of the world. More than 1.6 billion people suffer from energy poverty, without access to an electric grid to provide continuous power for their homes, schools or businesses. Created in conjunction with engineer Frederik Ottesen, the solar lamps will retail for just $10, making them accessible to students, families, school teachers, doctors, and more in even the poorest parts of the world. Lasting up to three years on a single battery (and up to 20 with battery changes), the pretty flower lights can substitute for dirty kerosene lamps often used in third-world countries.

Eliasson has big goals for his solar-powered invention: His goal is to sell at least a half a million in the next year and 50 million by 2020, distributing the lamps through a network of entrepreneurs in developing countries.

EcoOutfitters would like to shine a spotlight on Eliasson and his idea. What a brilliant symbol of sustainability!

(For more on energy poverty and what we can do to help (a topic of a #SolarChat in March 2012), read EcoOutfitters’ co-founder and president Raina Russo’s take on the discussion of solar charity initiatives here.)

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A full-time freelance writer, Dawn frequently covers energy efficiency, green living, and topics like LED lighting and whole home control systems for a number of blogs and technology trade magazines. Dawn is proud to live in New York as the state vies to beat out New Jersey as the East coast top dog of solar energy and is waiting for the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate legislation to pass before installing solar panels on her Long Island home.

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