A solar lamp that can provide safe and free electricity for homes in the developed world and double up as a mobile phone charger is among seven new low-carbon projects being developed in Scotland.
Joyce Onuonga is developing the lamp with her business partner Tio White with the concept earning a place in the Ideas Lab at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI).
Other new projects being developed at centre, which works to bring low-carbon ideas to market through business, legal and technological support, include a new scaled down approach to Scotland’s marine renewable energy potential and a network for home workers needing space and support of other freelancers and start-up entrepreneurs.
Ms Onuonga, of Edinburgh, is originally from Kenya and said she was motivated to create the safe lamp following a trip back to Africa where electricity blackouts were common and the use of dirty kerosene lamps in homes remained high.
It is estimated that more than 600 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa use kerosene as the primary source of lighting.
Ms Onuonga said using solar energy instead of kerosene would save millions of metric tons of Co2 emissions a year, and reduce the production of black carbon from the toxic smoke. She added that 1kg of black carbon produces as much global heat as 700kg of C02 does in 100 years.
She said: “We have all this technology in Scotland so I thought ‘why cant’ we use this technology here, export it, and be part of the solution?’”
With mobile phones “ crucial” to rural living in Africa, Ms Onuonga said the lamp would also charge mobile phone chargers and cut the need to spend time and money travelling to a market place to power up their devices.
She added: “When we looked at what was on he market, there were very cheap products available from China that are flimsy, break and end up in landfill. Our lamp is designed to last at least 10 years. I think we could make a real impact on people’s lives.”
Currently priced at £30 - a wage could be £10 a month, she said - work is ongoing to drive down the cost and work with co-operatives so the lamp can be paid for over time.
Meanwhile, Chris Retzler and Cameron McNatt of Mocean Energy were selected to join the Ideas Lab with their new scaled-down approach to marine energy production.
Mr McNatt said the difficulties of companies such as Pelamis and Aquamarine Power, which both went into administration, had forced a major rethink on how to create and supply wave and tidal power with Mocean now developing small-scale projects to directly supply sea-based installations from oil rigs to aquaculture plants.
He said: “These companies tried to go big right away and build devices that would link up to teh grid. The cost and risk associated with that scale is extremely high and investors lost their appetite. Our niche is to look at smaller scale markets and we are looking at things that are located offshore and need power.”
Ideas Lab will also welcome Michael Cockburn from Shoal Community, an app which brings remote workers together in the homes of other freelancers and start-up entrepreneurs to boost motivation, inspiration and productivity of those who work solo.
Mr Cockburn, 25, who has worked from home for five years, said: “I have had the same conversation, over and over, with people in the same situation as me. They don’t enjoy working on their own in the house. There are too many distractions and too much procrastination
“The amount of motivation and inspiration you can pick up from someone else, from like-minded people, in unbelievable.”
It is estimated that half the world’s workforce will be working remotely by the year 2050 a significant impact on carbon emissions to be made by cutting commuting, he added.
Other recruits at the centre include Ifeyinwa Kanu of Intelligest, who has designed an anaerobic digester that can treat food waste on site and Douglas Martin of MiAlgae, who is aiming to replace imports of fishmeal used in agricultural feed with a newly produced algae.
Stephen Faulkner, of Waste Heat Recovery, has designed a system that generates hot water for free on an industrial scale by capturing the heat shipped by refrigeration systems.
And Steven Conner, of Advanced Distribution Network Planning Strategies, is working on reducing carbon emissions through infrastructure upgrades and better approaches to planning.
Andy Kerr, ECCI Executive Director, said: “We’re pleased to welcome the fourth intake into the ECCI’s Low Carbon Ideas Lab. The seven new companies are a fantastic example of the breath and depth of the talented and innovative low carbon ideas being generated in Scotland and only serves to prove that amid all the political upheaval and uncertainty in the wider world, low carbon business innovation is thriving.”