ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The very last episode in Neil MacGregor's history of humanity as told through the things that time has left behind. The director of the British Museum in London has spent the past year choosing objects from the museum's vast collection to represent a two million year story of humanity.
Throughout this week he has been with objects that that speak of the great shifts in human organisation and thinking in the modern world. Here he describes the object that he has picked as his last; it's a solar-powered lamp and charger that he believes can revolutionise the lives of poor people around the globe. The portable panel can provide up to 100 hours of light after just 8 hours of direct sunlight. It can also charge mobile phones and help bring power to millions of people around the world who have no access to an electrical grid. Simple, cheap and clean - this is revolutionary technology for the future. Nick Stern, the expert on the economics of climate change, describes the potential impact of new solar technology. Neil explains why he has chosen a solar-powered lamp and charger as his final object - with examples of how it is already being used in rural Bengal and urban Kenya.
Producer: Anthony Denselow.
English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:03thank you for downloading this episode of a history of the world in a hundred from BBC Radio 4
00:00:13this Series has been for me an exhilarating journey through 2 million years of Ingenuity with a chopping tool chocolate shaped Stone to take control or more precisely that's also transforming the way we can live in sink in East Africa where our story
00:00:48it's a portable solar energy panel that powers a lamp in fact it's Sunshine captured harvested and stored to be used Whenever Wherever we need it
00:01:05no I can do my lesson
00:01:11obviously I have to spend lots of time in this Fashion Show to collect kerosene oil for used Lance at night for my study money to solar energy is at the heart of the new Industrial Revolution the low-carbon Industrial Revolution which is just beginning to Revolution which will be announced in the history of mankind
00:01:39the history of the world
00:01:54solar powered lamp and charger
00:01:58made in Shenzhen Guangdong China in 2010
00:02:10hundreds of jet give it to people all over the world until now I've been off grid that is what I access to any Mains electricity Supply control over there in soda pop text to low-cost lighting and power kits life is changing lives in many parts of the world and it may get who knows the key role in solving the world's energy problems broadcasting house and I've got the solar panel in love with me the latest addition to the collection of the British museum is major plastic it's go to handle and it's about the size of a large coffee mug the solar panel looks like a small silver frame when did solar panel is exposed to 8 hours of the bright Sun today we're lucky even in London the Sun is bright the lamp can provide up to a hundred hours of even white light
00:03:10Thai room enough to allow the family with no electricity to live in a quite new way I'm the one that paid for it depends only contain rows of soda cells made from Silicon together then it cased in plastic and glass butt exposed to sunlight the cells generate electricity which can charge the battery it's not a major durable plastic it's rechargeable batteries a recent invention and it's about Excel depends on the Silicon chip technology computers and mobile phones at all this supranational new technology thanks to the energy source that's been with us since the world began a million miles away it's the sun professor at Nick's turn of the London School of Economics known for his work on trying to change what is a great advantages of solar energy
00:04:10is as far as we humans are concerned it's almost Limitless why because in one hour we get as much energy from the Sun on the earth as we use much across the pond at the one here to France it's virtually unlimited and further the cost of accessing that's Limitless supply of energy is really crushing the hell just in the last couple years that cost to solar panel is full and by about a half
00:04:43new silicon is cheap on Sunshine is free solar panels big enough to generate the gargantuan amounts of electricity that rich countries devour are still prohibited expensive the poor I'm on mother's chest in the demands of paradoxically this technology will just cost me for the rich is cheap for the poor many of the world's poorest people live in the sun is latitudes which is why this new source of modest amount of energy number of votes can make a very big difference if you live in the tropics without electricity your day and eat it supplied by candles I buy kerosene lamps
00:05:31condos are dim I don't lost kerosene is expensive and gives off toxic fumes kerosene lanterns and cooking stoves cause an estimated 2 million deaths every year most of the women because the fumes were especially dangerous and in closed spaces for the most cooking is done affecting his heart and eyes or other natural materials highly inflammable risk from candle flames and kerosene spills solar panels change every aspect of domestic existence Lighting on top means that children can study at night improving the Futures and safer I did become cheaper microcredit schemes like this we spread so that the initial cost is high the debt can be paid off quite quickly
00:06:31considerable savings on kerosene the debt is paid your light is free here is a Lou Casada mother and I don't student front row West Bengal who is using one of the simple lamp kits in her home no I can work at night my children can do their lessons at night and you know we are living in the storm drawn area if daddy's Chong than kerosene lamp I'm not work in touch with electric lights for us and I'm happy
00:07:22call Geppetto's can provide Power for cookers fridges televisions computers and water pumps but there's more returns and Villages can be set free by set up our even when there is an Eames electricity Supply next turn again what is a great things about selling Paris Freedom From The Grid in many parts of the world particular the developing world and thickly South Asia and Africa he's extremely unreliable or unreliable from the point of view of interventions Spectra people it's all too easy to flick a switch and turn off your energy Supply and then the amount I meant to put it back on with solar power you can organize yourself you're in control so it's really empowering relative to relying on the grid system
00:08:22enormous they give Independence here is a teacher from a girls school in kibera Kenya one of the densest urban areas in Africa where they've been taught how to make solar panels themselves Ohio Route is helping to bring an extra pupils at the school as well as giving light to the community on how to make it to light by the student discovery that they can also connect wires so that it can also charge a mobile phone mp3 mp4 and maybe the camera this panel walks into weighs 180 provides lights that is a torch you can use as a torch under the symptoms during daytime when we don't need light it can be used to charge mobile phones and any other rechargeable thing that falls below 5 Bolt
00:09:10alarm does a charging socket and besides it is a universally recognized symbol a mobile phone in electrical grid the power they need to join the global mobile conversation pushing communities in touch getting access to information about jobs and markets and providing the basis for highly effective banking networks local businesses can start up on a shoestring a recent study of mobile phone use among the rural poor commission report neighbors Farmers ritual drivers fisherman and shopkeepers boost for they have access to a mobile phone and confirms women especially benefit they can have their own solar panel and charge people to use it either for a lamp or a mobile phone they can do it no see from their own house they will need to borrow a bit to buy it but
00:10:10on the whole microfinance to women is more reliable than women seem to pay that bills pay that credit a bit more reliably than men so it has that sense of opportunity and empowerment for women
00:10:29this liberating low-cost green clean technology is a transforming lives in Africa and Asia it may ultimately help to save the planet reducing dependence on fossil fuels and their contribution to climate change it was Express years ago but I expected profits of renewable energy Thomas Edison 1931 it's just an abusive to his friends Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone I hope we don't have to wait until the power of the sun seems a good place to end this global history because solar energy is a dream of the future is the most universal of human Miss that's what the life-giving sun you could see our solar powered lamp has an acre of this myth of Prometheus produced
00:11:29Campbell Road Hope Home Health just as we bought whole summer fruits so that the warmth of nourishment to Summer can see us through winter everybody has dreamed of harvesting the Sun have its lights and power available will the very first program of this history Egyptian priest or negative truck with him a Scarab magical Delights in the darkness of his often life I think if you were sitting out
00:12:05this hundred subject brings me to the end of this particular history of the world
00:12:12for me the series has demonstrated the power of things to connections to other lives across time and place to ensure that all human story
00:12:26I hope it showed that the notion of the Human family is not an empty pacifier however dysfunctional. Family usually is reorder the same needs of the same preoccupations the same fears and hopes is one
00:12:45it's good to be able to end the series on a note of Hope is the music created by the sun's atmosphere it's the noise day.
00:13:16You can see the object describe this program on the history of the world website as well as hundreds of all those for museums across the UK
00:13:27find BBC. Co. Uk / a history of the world

Transcribed by algorithms. Report Errata
Disclaimer: The podcast and artwork embedded on this page are from BBC Radio 4, which is the property of its owner and not affiliated with or endorsed by Listen Notes, Inc.

EDIT

Thank you for helping to keep the podcast database up to date.