South America Solar.
If you’ve never been to South America (and the vast majority of Americans have not) you may not realize that there are millions of people that live there with absolutely no electricity, and therefore no lighting, in their homes or in their towns. It may be hard to imagine and, for most Americans, would be practically intolerable to have absolutely no lights after dark save the light that came from a campfire or wood stove but it’s the reality there for many.
Ken Olsen, the owner of SolEnergy, a solar power energy company in Arbondale, CO, has been there many times over the last 10 years and has seen the way these people live. He has also seen the change that even a small, solar powered LED lighting system can make for a home or a village and that’s the reason he keeps going back.
Not only is Mr. Olsen and his team installing the new, solar powered LED light systems that last for years and need little maintenance, they are also installing cleaner burning alternatives for indoor stoves. Sadly many people in these extremely remote villages suffer from respiratory problems not from outdoor pollution but from indoor pollution cause by burning wood indoors.
By installing the new LED lights and the new, cleaner burning stove Olsen is improving the lives of these people greatly and for mere pennies. Indeed he has been asked many times why he does it when the fact is that his company is making money hand over fist in the States installing new, larger solar LED systems here. He explains that the payback is seeing the difference that even a small amount of light can make in the lives of people who have so little.
Olsen recently returned from a 2 week mission that he undertook with the collaboration of Trees, Water and People, a non-profit group that promotes sustainable development in 3rd world countries. Their goal; provide clean cooking stoves, solar powered energy for lighting and to promote reforestation in some of the most remote places of the continent.
A solar energy specialist Olsen was the 1st in Colorado to obtain North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certification. He also has worked with the World Health Organization and speaks fluent Spanish.
For him the mission trips are simply a way to help people who have nothing and, to hear him tell it, it’s been one of the most fulfilling things he’s done in his life. His next stop; Peru and the remote villages of the Amazon jungle where he will shed a little light and a little love on the next people he meets.