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Last year, one of the vendors at NESEA's Building Energy conference ( gave away a keychain fob, a little two LED hand crank light.  This year, another vendor gave away three LED solar keychain lights.  A few weeks later, I got another solar LED light as a giveaway from the MIT Energy Initiative.

A little searching found where these promotional gifts are available in bulk:
1.61 @ per 5000 solar keychain lights

1.32@ per 5000 hand crank keychain lights

I wonder what happens when these cheap sweatshop trinkets meet the necessary invention of the bottom billion and a third, billion and a half people who do not yet have access to reliable electricity.

In 1988 I visited China.
One evening, I walked out of the White Swan Hotel
on Shamian Island and crossed the bridge
into the city of Guangzhou.
There I saw a line of men
standing behind small folding tables
in closed shop doorways.

Coming closer, I saw that they were rebuilding and
plastic "disposable" lighters.

I want a solar rechargeable reading light
just as cheap, adaptable, and readily available
as a disposable cigarette lighter.
We need to make it possible
for every child around the world
to read in bed
and dream.

That's one way we could transition to a more renewable economy.  

Richard Komp has been practicing another, seeding solar cottage industry systems around the world for the last few decades.  He teaches people how to assemble their own panels, from  AA battery to household, school, or hospital scale, out of raw solar cells.  You can read more about cottage industry solar at


More energy giveaways?

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