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Tent City getting solar powered lighting

26th Dec 2012

Tent City getting solar powered lighting, if you love camping you know how much fun it can be to get away from it all and live in a tent for a couple of days.  Usually most people bring along battery powered camp lights and have a fire outside of the tent as well for seeing what they need to see when the sun goes down and the stars come out. Imagine, however, that you actually were forced to live in that same tent for an extended amount of time and that you didn’t have any type of light at all to shine at night, instead being surrounded by total darkness each and every night after the sun dropped below the horizon. It doesn’t seem as romantic or fun when you consider this, does it? That situation is what used to face the people living in Tent City in Lubbock, Texas, a homeless shelter that serves the embattled residents of this rural Texas town who for whatever circumstance have been forced to live in what most people consider basic shelter. It’s better than nothing, to be sure, but without light at night everything becomes much more difficult and life takes on a certain dimness, if you’ll pardon the pun. It is for this reason that Texas Tech’s Rawls College of Business and its World Energy Project, a group that has taken solar powered LED lights to the dense jungles of South America, has decided to also install their very popular solar powered set-up in Lubbock. Their mission is to bring solar powered energy to communities that have none, not only as a way to light their nights but also as a way to fight poverty.  It’s an interesting concept best explained by Texas Tech’s Terry McInturff, a professor and former lawyer. He posits that ‘energy poverty’,  including the light needed to make reading and other activities possible at night, is a major cause of financial poverty.  As he explains, “You’ll never get out of financial poverty if you don’t get out of energy poverty first.” Lubbock’s Tent City is comprised of 30 tents as of right now with more being contemplated as the need grows.  The solar system that powers the 1 LED light per tent consist of 15 solar panels and 15 12-voilt batteries to store the solar energy during the day.  It is estimated that, with battery replacement every 5 to 6 years, the system should last for at least 20. Professor McInturff explains it very succinctly.  “Solar energy isn’t about heat, it’s about light”. In his eyes the benefits of a simple solar system like the one they have installed in Lubbock can do much more good than it might seem to the naked eye and can help people build better lives and break the cycle of poverty.  It’s a bright idea to say the least.