Solar Chat: A Discussion With Solar Buddy’s Simon Doble on Energy Poverty

Trish Morattoby Trish Moratto (guest post), , 0 Comments
Energy Poverty solar chat

I recently had the good fortune to meet Simon Doble, the founder of SolarBuddy, a global impact organization dedicated to lifting people from extreme energy poverty. We discussed how the organization is changing lives and why this is just the beginning for SolarBuddy in the United States.

TM: Help me visualize what exactly energy poverty is and how it impacts day-to-day life?

SD: Consider how different life would be without electricity for cooking, heating, and lighting. Seems almost impossible to imagine, doesn’t it?  Yet, there are millions of people living without access to modern energy services, who are forced to use animal manure, firewood, charcoal, and toxic kerosene for electricity. This is defined as Energy Poverty.

TM: I’m amazed I’ve never heard this term before. What is the daily impact to those living in energy poverty?Solar Buddy USA

SD: Prevalent in developing nations, energy poverty negatively impacts community wellbeing – specifically children – as they are consistently breathing in toxic fumes as their brains and lungs are developing, and often must walk great distances to collect the fuel to meet the needs of daily life. Energy poverty directly threatens health, economic stability, and the potential for children to reach their goals and dreams.

TM: How widespread is energy poverty?

SD: According to the World Bank, globally, around 1.1 billion people still do not have access to electricity. About 2.9 billion use solid fuels—wood, charcoal, coal, and dung—for cooking and heating. In addition to the devastating health, education and social impacts of energy poverty, the reality is that energy poverty also contributes substantially to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, energy poverty causes more toxic emissions than the entire global aviation industry. Solving energy poverty is directly linked to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, fighting global warming, and drastically improving the lives of countless individuals.

Simon DobleTM: What is the latest with SolarBuddy?

SD: I founded the non-profit in 2016 to provide clean, solar energy solutions for children without access to safe, reliable carbon-free light. We are headquartered in Australia, and SolarBuddy has recently expanded and now has a dedicated presence here in the United States. This month, Junior Achievement of Northern California (JA) announced a partnership with SolarBuddy to promote K-12 educational programs that will include assembling and gifting of SolarBuddy lights to children throughout the world living in extreme energy poverty. Find more information about the program here.

If you are interested in learning more about SolarBuddy, please visit their website:

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