Is Salt Water the Answer to Energy Poverty?

Problem: The issue of energy poverty is not new. Of the 7 billion people on our planet, 1.3 billion lack access to electricity (Lindeman, 2015). To address this issue, the United Nations declared access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy as one of the Sustainable Development Goals (UN, n.d). In countries such as North Korea, Cambodia and Burma, 70% of the population lives without energy. 600 million in sub-saharan Africa and 300 million in India live without electricity (Lindeman, 2015).

The question is what are the solutions?

Technology: Energy

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One of the solutions devised by Greenpeace activist, Aiso Mijeno, is a lantern powered by salt water. Aiso devised this lamp to serve the people living on the 7,000 islands in the Philippines that have limited access to electricity. The Islanders make use of kerosene lamps that is both harmful and not environmentally friendly (, n.d).

The SALt lamps are activated by the salinity of the ocean water. It is based on metal-air technology. The key components of the lamp include salt and water, air and metal and light.

  • Salt and Water: The salt water is critical for the activation of the lamp. It can be replenished by the users from time to time
  • Air and Metal: The air that passes through the system reacts with the metal and salt water
  • Light: The combination of the air, metal and salt produces electricity that powers up the LED light

The  non-toxic saline solution makes it safe to use compared to kerosene lamps. All one needs to do is store ocean water in bottles and replenish the water in the lantern from time to time. Each lantern can provide light for up to 8 hours a day with an estimate lifespan of 6 months. It’s easy to use, does not emit any harmful gasses and has a low carbon footprint (, n.d).

Limitation: There are certain limitations to the product. It can only be used by those who have access to salt water. The poor living in arid desert regions cannot use this product. Thus, the target audience is limited.

***Also, it is important to note, this product is in production stage and hasn’t been manufactured on a large scale***

Stakeholders: The key stakeholders include:

Stakeholders Role
Investors Capital investment for mass production
Corporates CSR funds for the provision of FOC lanterns to less privilege communities
NGO partners Help with community outreach & monitoring & mechanism of sale/impact
Community leaders Permission to sell products at community fairs
Community Youth Training in maintenance and repair so they can act as SALt Champions on the ground

Implementation: The following steps need to be taken to implement the product:

Step 1: Find investors to infuse capital to enable mass production of lanterns

Step 2: Tie up with companies working in the space of energy poverty for CSR funds

Step 3: Partnership with NGO’s for support with community outreach and monitoring of outcome/impact

Step 4: Meeting with community leaders: Seek permission to sell lanterns at community fairs

Step 5: Meeting with community youth: Select youth to train as SALt Champions who will help with maintenance and repair on ground


  • SALt, (n.d), ‘Product’,, retrieved on October 5th, 2017 from
  • Lindeman Todd (2015), ‘World without Power’, The Washington Post, retrieved on October 5th from
  • United Nations, (n.d), ‘Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all’, Sustainable Development Goals, retrieved on October 5th, 2017 from



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