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UNEP: Solar can allay fuel poverty

Feb. 25, 2013 at 8:12 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Countries that move from fueled lighting systems to solar power could save billions of dollars per year, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said from Kenya.

The U.N. Environment Program said the 1.3 billion people who don't have access to electric light pay a combined $23 billion per year on kerosene. More than 75 percent of the population in West Africa doesn't have access to a reliable source of electricity.

"Replacing the world's 670 million kerosene lamps with cleaner, safer solar-powered lighting represents a major opportunity to deliver across multiple fronts, from cuts in global carbon emissions, health risks from indoor air pollution, support for green technologies and the generation of green jobs," Steiner said.

A UNEP study on solar power said countries could get their investment costs recovered in less than a year if they moved away from fuel-based lighting. That switch would also save more than 2.3 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, the environmental agency stated.

"Supporting both sustainable off-grid and on-grid lighting can bring about major financial savings in a short time," said Steiner.

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