Around the world, there are currently 1.1 billion people that do not have access to clean drinking water, and 2.7 billion people live through water scarcity for at least one month each year. Each year, there are more than 300,000 children that die from waterborne diseases, which is approximately one every 90 seconds. Waterborne disease is currently the world’s leading cause of death, and these problems are only worsening. By 2025, it is estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population may be living with water shortages if the world continues on its current path. Water scarcity comes with disappearing wetlands and damaged ecosystems. For example, the Aral Sea in central Asia used to be the fourth largest freshwater lake in the world, but over the last 30 years, it has lost around 20,000 square miles of water, and due to pollution and the separating of water for irrigation and power, it is now as salty as an ocean. Because of this harsh change in the amount of water, there is less access to drinking water for the people nearby.
People in regions like this all around the world are forced to boil their brackish water in order for it to be safe to drink and bathe in, and boiling doesn’t work for those with only seawater nearby because boiling doesn’t desalinate the water. Drinking salt water can cause severe kidney problems, especially for children, and it can cause dehydration, which can have fatal consequences if it’s prolonged. The dirty and salty water can also carry diseases like E. coli and cholera, which are both dangerous and potentially fatal.
This is happening all over the world, and clean water is becoming more difficult to get ahold of for thousands of people. Fortunately, there is a solution that is being put in place.
What is GivePower?
GivePower was founded in 2013 by Hayes Barnard and Lyndon Rive in northern California as part of SolarCity. Their mission is to sustainably bring access to electricity, food, and clean water in regions that are less fortunate around the world, and they do this through the power of the sun. Through solar energy in their innovative Solar Water Farm, each farm can provide water for up to 35,000 people every single day.
They began their journey with installing off-grid solar panels to energize almost 2,500 schools in 23 different countries, and they discovered that they could continue to bring positive change to people by helping them with their most basic need: water. Thus, the Solar Water Farm was born, and the first one was installed in Kiunga, Kenya in 2018.
The Solar Water Farm works by the desalinization of 20-foot containers full of 75,000 liters of water per day, and it is all powered by solar energy. Brackish water or seawater is brought in via a well or an open intake, and the larger particles in the water go through a pre-filtration process. Desalinization is able to take place through reverse osmosis, meaning that unwanted molecules and contaminants are filtered out from a semi-permeable membrane like a synthetic lining. The synthetic lining is cleaned and then the process can repeat, all powered by sunlight.
GivePower has installed solar panels and Solar Water Farms to power schools, desalinate water for drinking, and help with conservation efforts all over the world. They have been able to impact the lives of over 500,000 people with their technology, not including the people that do the work and get to see the change that they are helping to create. They trek with volunteers to different parts of the world with the equipment to create huge impacts in villages and rural communities, living amongst the people they are aiming to help throughout the installation process.
Timeline of GivePower’s projects:
2014: The first off grid microgrid installation was opened in the remote, rural town of El Islote, Nicaragua, at a school. The school teaches children during the day and offers adult literacy classes in the evenings, and since the installation, enrollment and attendance have increased for all ages. Carla Estrada, the project manager, said, “One person cannot change the world, but a group of people can make a difference,” and GivePower is committed to being that group of people.
2015: Almost 30% of people in Nepal have no access to electricity. GivePower began installing solar microgrids in Mahji Goan, a small fishing community near the Himalayas, to provide a reliable source of electricity. This allowed schools, businesses, agricultural production, and healthcare services to survive and help the people in need. Before GivePower came in, some families had to be separated in order to work and make enough money to survive. Now, thanks to electricity that they can rely on, families are reunited, and people are more secure in their resources to create a better life in Mahji Goan.
2016: GivePower installed 3 microgrid solar installations to restore life-saving communications systems for rangers of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This area of the world is considered one of the most dangerous armed areas in the world, and these communications systems are vital to the survival of the park and the people around it. The Park is the oldest national park in Africa, with thousands of species that need preservation and protection from poachers. These grids also helped to power electric cooking, reducing the need to cut down trees for charcoal use, furthering the effects of the clean energy.
2017: Hurricane Maria destroyed the homes and livelihoods of thousands of people in Puerto Rico and took power from 91% of the island. Hundreds of thousands of people were without access to water, electricity, communication, and emergency services. GivePower helped to restore communication systems for first responders and medical and emergency services for people in need through solar energy. These solutions will help the island long-term to save lives and support the communities.
2018: In June, the first Solar Water Farm is opened in Kiunga, Kenya, a small village a few miles from the border of Somalia. Kiunga has survived a drought for over five years, but they had run out of water and were in desperate need of help. The Solar Water Farm was the answer to their prayers, and everyone in the village now has access to clean water. This project was a monumental success for GivePower, and it pushed the organization to continue finding ways to help people that are without things that can be taken for granted.
September brought solar power to help refrigerate food and medicine for orphaned elephants and provide important communication lines for rangers at the Reteti Elephant Orphanage in Samburu, Kenya. The Reteti is the first community-owned elephant orphanage in Africa, and the team rescues elephants and other small wildlife from 300 square kilometers. The elephants become orphaned through human-wildlife conflicts like poaching, open wells that the elephants can fall into, and separation. The communication that GivePower helped to provide allows more elephants to be saved and supported and the people working and living in Reteti to be better taken care of.
2019: Ciudad Perdida, Columbia installed its first solar power in May that will help preserve the sacred site of The Lost City. The ancient city is hidden in the mountainside, covered in thick jungle, under the watch of five rangers at a time. These rangers had no reliable energy resource to power communication, emergency services, or their basic needs while they are stationed at the site. The solar power also provided the possibility of technology like ground-penetrating radar that can discover more about the city without disrupting the physical elements and destroying the physical history that has been so well-preserved.
In July, a 300kW solar farm was installed at the Standing Rock Reservation near the Dakota Access Pipeline that powers a community center, a veterans’ memorial building, and youth services and education. It is the largest solar system in North Dakota and is the first Indigenous owned and operated solar farm. Cody Two Bears, the founder of Indigenized Energy, said, “When we do come together, we can do amazing things like this…all over the world.”
Bagara, Nepal received an 18kW microgrid system to support a village of 300 people, as well as their school and clinic in November. Bagara is a 2-day hike from the nearest road, and installing the system involved hard, manual labor and a 2,000-foot climb from everyone involved.
2020: The second Solar Water Farm opens in the largest community on the island of La Gonave, Haiti in April. La Gonave has the least government assistance with access to basic needs—there isn’t even a publicly provided water pipeline, and the water provided by another organization is 90% brackish. The clean water provided by the Solar Water Farm helped to fight the growth of water borne illnesses and treat fevers throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as helping to stop the spread of the disease with water for hand washing in a region where clean water is scarce.
In June, the Solar Water Farm Max opened in Likoni, Kenya. Likoni has about 200,000 people, and all of them face water scarcity. The drinking water is imported and can be outrageously expensive for the people of the community, and the people that cannot afford imported water are forced to drink the salt water that they can find. With GivePower’s help, they now have access to plenty of clean water, and not only has their health improved, but their economic welfare has improved with the need of imported water extinguished.
There have been several other projects including more schools and clinics receiving access to electricity via clean, solar energy, and GivePower continues to change lives every day with their technology.
Blue Raven Solar Commits to an Impact
Blue Raven Solar believes strongly in making the world a better place in every way possible. Everything we do is to make people’s lives better and to bring more abundance to everyone we come in contact with. We love solar energy because of the ability it gives us to help people save money and to provide a cleaner environment, and GivePower uses the same principles to bring water and electricity security to people that need it the most. GivePower has made enormous changes in the lives of so many people, and the world continues to be a better, brighter place.
Every purchase of a solar system from Blue Raven Solar provides access to clean, drinkable water to one person for more than 20 years. This hugely improves someone’s ability to live safely and healthily, and we are proud to be part of that impact.