Indoor sun

Mahfuzul Haque writes about the industrial version of the ‘Botol bati’

018Adequate lighting is a must for efficient operation in any business establishment. If the factories, offices, warehouses and other facilities of a company or organisaton can make use of sunlight to provide lighting to their rooms during the day, it will help cut down electricity costs and can be environment friendly at the same time.
Change, a development organisation in Bangladesh that working to encourage the use of renewable energy, has come up with a solution by introducing solar pipe light which the organisation is calling the ‘Indoor sun’.
Earlier in 2014, the organisation came up with ‘Bottle lights’, an innovation from empty bottles that uses sunlight to lighten up crammed rooms in slum areas and also in rural settings. ‘Since then, many business entrepreneurs have asked us to provide them with something similar to lighten the big rooms of the business establishments,’ says Sajid Iqbal, founder of Change.
The team started research on it. ‘We found the solar pipe light is widely used in industries in many developed countries,’ Iqbal shares. The team then assessed the feasibility of producing the technology locally as the cost of such technology used in developed countries would be much higher, if imported. ‘We at our warehouse in Mirpur in the capital initiated research so that we can produce it by using local materials in order to minimise its costs,’ Iqbal says.
Eventually they turned out to be successful. The concept of getting light from the solar pipe is almost the same as bottle lights where sunlight is transferred inside the rooms. ‘Here we have used poly-carbon-dome set up on the rooftop that renders the sunlight onto the reflective pipe which is attached to the dome. The diffuser attached to the other end of the pipe diffuses the light inside the room,’ Iqbal narrates how the technology functions.
019A solar pipe light is capable of lighting up around 800 square feet of area at a time. With the cooperation of GIZ Bangladesh, the German development cooperation, and SREDA, the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority of Bangladesh Government, the team has recently piloted the technology at an ice cream factory at Savar in Dhaka. ‘We found it to be effective in generating adequate light,’ Iqbal says.
Before installation of the solar pipe light, two 65W and four 35W CFL bulbs at the factory were consuming 2.7 units of electricity daily during daytime (summing up to be 70.2 units of electricity monthly). The bulbs were producing 20 lux light that was quite insufficient for workers. ‘We have found the solar pipe light can generate 80 lux light,’ Iqbal shares. The technology will save 842 units of electricity a year, if used. It will also help reduce emission of 432 kilogrammes of carbon, he estimates.

In Bangladesh where medium and small scale business ventures are booming, the technology will be very effective in single floor industrial structures to improve daytime lighting and of course, reduce the dependency on electricity use, thus minimising the cost, Iqbal hopes.
A large amount of electricity is consumed at the industries for lighting the rooms and if the solar pipe is introduced, the owners can save a large sum of money every month by using the natural sunlight during daytime. Also, the innovation can be a feasible solution in the face of the persistent energy crisis that our country faces at the moment.
‘Though such technology is still expensive in developed nations, we have been successful in producing at cheaper costs. We have estimated its price at around Tk 11,000,’ Iqbal says. The team is continuing research on it and they hope to minimise the cost further.
Iqbal hopes that the indoor sun will be a formidable tool at promoting green technology while environmental problem remains one of the pressing problems in Bangladesh and across the globe as well. He expects government’s cooperation to advance the use of the technology.

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