At a glance 2 min

Little Sun, the little solar lamp all grown up

In an article published in 2013 under the title “Sunshine and plastics: bright ideas for a better world”, we talked about Little Sun, a small sun-shaped solar-powered lamp designed by two Scandinavians, artist Olafur Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen, which was intended for people living without electricity in Ethiopia.
Little Sun, the little solar lamp all grown up
Little Sun, the little solar lamp all grown up

Since then, things have changed and the humble idea has now become a global project that has changed the lives of over two million people.

A social business with a global reach

Little Sun is now a social business which aims to provide clean, reliable and affordable light to over 1.2 billion people around the world who still do not have access to electricity. Little Sun can currently be found in over ten African countries, such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and Ghana, as well as in Europe, in Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States.

The Little Sun sun-shaped solar lamps are made from polycarbonate and ABS, both highly UV and weather-resistant plastics. The lamps are fitted with a solar collector. When recharged for 5 hours in the sun, the lamp can provide up to four hours of bright light and around 50 hours of soft light. The lamp is also fitted with a fan to cool its battery and solar panel, and therefore extend its useful life to 4 or 5 years in harsh weather conditions.

A socially-responsible source of electricity

With a price that varies according to the area in which the product is sold, purchases of the small lamp by the citizens of rich countries are used to finance the supply and distribution of these same lamps through a well-developed network of local entrepreneurs in regions of the world not connected to the electricity grid. In this way, each Little Sun buyer contributes to ensuring that energy reaches those who are deprived of it.

Light for the most disadvantaged thanks to solar energy

In 2017, Olafur Eliason launched the Little Sun Foundation, an extension of his social business, with the aim of providing light to schools, refugees, and people affected by a natural disaster.

When night falls, the light produced thanks to solar energy enables children to study, families to have activities after work, social life to flourish and businesses to stay open. It also prevents those families and schoolchildren from having to breathe the toxic fumes from expensive kerosene lamps. As a result, it has an impact on education, social life, security, poverty and the environment.

In December 2018, 838,308 units of the small lamp whose design is inspired by Ethiopian decorative motifs were distributed worldwide, including 510,844 units in areas without electricity. All in all, around 2,230,000 peoples’ lives have been improved by Little Sun.

COP 21, UN, World Economic Forum, meeting with Al Gore and Ban Ki-moon, partnership with Ikea, and more. Little Sun is now known and recognised worldwide, and does not intend to rest on its laurels! Let there be light!

More information:

Picture: little girl playing with Little Sun in Ethiopia - Copyright: Merklit Mersha

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