In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep…. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good… (Genesis 1:1-4, NASB)
It seems to me that since God provides sunshine for free to a world facing ever-increasing pollution and dwindling natural resources, it makes perfect sense to harness that sunshine and turn it into clean power—power that can be used to provide light, as well as electricity to run devices that make our existence easier, alleviate suffering, and even save lives.
Operation Blessing teams work in many places where people either do not have easy access to electricity, cannot afford the high cost of electricity, or are victims of disasters in which the power grid has been wiped out. We have learned much about the most efficient ways to implement solar power and are using more of it as the cost lowers and funding becomes available.
Basically, the way solar power works is this: As sunshine hits solar panels it is converted into Direct Current (DC), which then travels through wires to a device called an inverter. The inverter transforms the DC power into Alternating Current (AC). The AC power flows to a panel that distributes the electricity to lights or other appliances.
In more sophisticated systems, any excess power not being consumed flows back into the municipal grid or is stored in onsite batteries so electricity is available at night or on cloudy days. The price of solar panels has dropped dramatically in recent years, and there’s no doubt that as competition increases and technological breakthroughs occur, the price of inverters will soon fall as well. Solar power is becoming an economically viable source of energy in places like the Caribbean region and Latin America where electricity can cost as much as four times what we pay in the U.S.
Our teams have used solar power for many years, but we hope to utilize it even more in the future. For example: In China’s Gansu province, we provided hundreds of solar ovens in a place where there was no electricity to cook food and all the trees had been cut down for firewood. We have used solar-powered hand-held chlorine generators for disinfecting contaminated water in over 20 countries and provided numerous solar-powered deep water wells in places like Kenya, where the only water available is over 500 feet deep. In Kenya we also use solar power to energize electric fences to protect community gardens previously trampled by elephants and marauded by wildlife.
During the past few months, we have distributed over 20,000 solar lamps to bless families whose electricity was lost when Hurricane Maria devastated the islands of the Caribbean. Children who have suffered disaster trauma and lived in the dark are especially happy to have light in their homes at night. A few months ago, we joined a coalition called “Solar Saves Lives” to provide free solar power in Puerto Rico to medical clinics. I recently received photos of a completed solar power system that was secured, transported, and installed for free by our partners at a medical clinic where lives had been lost because there was no electricity or diesel fuel for generators.
Solar power saves the environment and saves lives. I hope you will join with us in helping put more light into dark places in our continuing effort to demonstrate God’s love to struggling families.