September 12, 2008
Non-Profit Formed By Envision Solar Alums Will Shed (Solar) Light on Dangers of Kerosene Lamps in Developing World
Envision Solar, the La Jolla, California firm founded by architects that is best known for creating innovative designs that enable and innovate solar energy systems, has inspired two of its former employees to form "Beyond Solar," a non-profit organization with a mission to bring solar powered lighting to families in the developing world. The two Envision Solar "Alumni," will apply their renewable energy experience to a grassroots effort to offer renewable alternatives to kerosene lighting.
"What we learned at Envision Solar is that photovoltaic systems can be so much more than mere electricity. Working at Envision Solar taught us to approach systems and markets in new and innovative ways," notes Jeff Olshesky, a co-founder of Beyond Solar and the former Director of Finance at Envision Solar. Co-founder Trevor Knauf, who was Director of Sales at Envision Solar, adds, "Now we hope to apply our knowledge to a cause that is very important to us."
In the developing world, lanterns fueled by kerosene are the most common form of indoor lighting. However, burning fuel indoors can create fire hazards and expose families to harmful pollutants that often cause respiratory ailments. Furthermore, kerosene lamps provide generally poor quality lighting, and the kerosene fuel is an ongoing and burdensome expense for the household. Beyond Solar seeks to offer solar powered lanterns from d.light Designs, a Bay Area technology firm, as a clean alternative. The solar lighting units are equipped with photovoltaic panels that create energy from the sun, which is then stored in a small battery to provide power for the lighting unit at night. "It's such a simple measure," comments Knauf, "but it can really make a difference in the quality of life for families and entire communities."
Robert Noble, Founder and CEO of Envision Solar, expressed his support and admiration for his former employees. "We are honored that Trevor and Jeff would credit their time at Envision Solar as the inspiration for their new enterprise, particularly since Beyond Solar has such a wonderful mission." Noble, who also chairs the California Center for Sustainable Energy, has advised Olshesky and Knauf.
Beyond Solar will first bring donated lighting units to areas where kerosene lamps are used, but in the future Olshesky and Knauf hope to offer a variety of micro-financing options to increase access to the clean lighting and to encourage new financial infrastructure. "At this early stage of the company, our first task is to raise capital to fund our inaugural delivery expedition," Olshesky notes. He and Knauf plan to travel to India in October and are engaged in initial fund-raising activities. Knauf summarizes, "We're anxious to get started. The sooner we begin, the sooner we can work to increase awareness about the positive impact of applied renewable energy."
About Beyond Solar:
Beyond Solar, based in San Diego, California, is a California non-profit corporation founded by solar entrepreneurs Jeff Olshesky and Trevor Knauf. Beyond Solar seeks to improve the quality of life for families and communities in the developing world through increased accessibility to renewable energy applications.
About Envision Solar:
Envision Solar International, Inc., based in La Jolla, CA, is a privately held, solar integrated building system developer. Envision Solar was founded by a group of visionary architects, builders and engineers with a mission to provide aesthetically pleasing photovoltaic systems to increase the worldwide use of renewable energy.