YOLK, the company known for creating compact, transportable solar panels has created the Solar Cow, a solution providing free electricity to rural areas while incentivizing parents to send their children to school.
According to YOLK, in Africa, child labor prevents one in five children from attending school. With Solar Cow, YOLK hopes to lower this statistic, while providing a much-needed commodity–electricity. With free access to electricity, YOLK estimates that families can save up to 20% of their income.
Solar Cow is essentially a large solar-powered electricity bank in the shape of a cow. Students receive a smaller accompanying power bank in the shape of a milk container, called "Power Milk". The Power Milk charges during the day while the children are in school, and once school is over, they return home with access to electricity at night. Each Power Milk is digitally marked to identify who owns which power bank and to record students' attendance at school.
As the initial testing ground, YOLK has piloted the program in Pokot, Kenya, a rural village around 9 hours from Nairobi. The Solar Cow has been installed at the Chemoril school in collaboration with local nonprofit, World Together. Solar Cow systems are low cost, easy to set up, and since they are solar powered, they have little upkeep cost. The Power Milks are specifically designed to only work with the Solar Cows, which will hopefully deter any attempt to sell or steal the power banks for other purposes.
As mobile phones and other electronics become more of a necessity in everyone's life, this system provides an interesting solution to providing more accessible electricity and improving educational attendance. Yolk's mission is to make unlimited, pollution-free solar energy available in daily life. In addition to Solar Cow, they've also created Solarade, a thin and light solar charger, and Solar Paper, a modular, portable solar panel.