Sunflower Solutions bringing solar power to developing world
The users of Sunflower Solutions' device don't need to be experts in solar energy. They don't need superhuman strength. They don't even need to know English.
"As long as they're not colorblind," says Sunflower's founder Christopher Clark of his device's simple instruction manual.
Clark's vision is this: to bring low-tech solar power to the developing world. The 23-year-old, recent graduate of Miami University, says the idea sprouted from a project involving engineering students who were charged with developing a business plan for a human-powered well pump.
"I thought there has to be a better way to do these sorts of projects," Clark says. "If these areas had electricity, people could do a number of things, like have clean drinking water."
The result is EmPower, Sunflower Solutions' staple: a low-tech, lightweight solar device that follows the sun's rays to obtain optimal energy. The system is simple — there are no motors or microprocessors. To operate, there are a series of simple color-coded instructions. A truly DIY-approach to solar energy.
The system has already been shipped to places like Rwanda and Kenya. This summer, Sunflower will power a hospital in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
Other than a $30,000 grant from Cleveland's Civic Innovation Lab, Sunflower Solutions has been completely self-sufficient. There are about 35 people who work for the company. Clark calls the workforce a "community," a group of "solar evangelists" who believe in the good work of the company. There are plans to grow, with a larger sales force and a manufacturing facility.
Source: Christopher Clark, Sunflower Solutions
Writer: Colin McEwen