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High-efficiency LED technology replaces old petroleum lamps

Boy with headlamp doing homework
(Photo: Bacher)

Project Activity

Access to electricity is fundamental in fostering economic development. In South Saharan Africa, only 30.5 percent of the population are connected to the national grid. The situation is especially problematic in rural areas, where the figure drops to just 14.3 percent (see Given this poor supply situation, lighting in rural areas is usually provided by petroleum lamps. Not only are these lamps costly to run, they also harm people’s respiratory health as well as the environment. The out-dated lamps are also unsafe and are often the cause of fires and accidents. Nonetheless, petroleum lamps are extremely common across South Saharan Africa and are used in many Rwandan homes.

As part of the Nuru Lighting Project, social enterprise Nuru Lighting and project developer Carbon Africa Ltd. aim to supply affected households with a safe, healthy and environmentally friendly alternative form of lighting which is both affordable and can be used in many different situations. Rwandan-based Nuru Lighting has developed a modular system which enables the use of LED lamps in isolated areas without the need for grid connection. The high-efficiency, battery driven LED lamps are charged using the PowerCycle, a pedal-operated generator. As part of the project, this service is offered by small businesses in the region that either buy or lease the generators from Nuru Lighting, and also sell the LED lamps. For a small fee, households can have their lamps charged on the premises of these small businesses. Charging takes about 20 minutes, and once charged, the lamps provide light for up to 40 hours. Some 1.2 million LED lamps are to be sold over the ten-year project lifecycle. They will be powered by around 5,500 PowerCycles.

Current Situation and Expected Emission Reductions

To calculate the emission reductions to be achieved with a CDM project, the emissions that would have occurred had the project not been implemented must first be calculated. With the Nuru Lighting Project, it was assumed that petroleum lamps, which are currently used in 90 percent of Rwandan households, would continue to be used as they are at present. To calculate the CO2 emissions arising from the use of those lamps, diverse factors were taken into account, such as the average number of petroleum lamps used per household, the number of hours they are in use, and the average amount of petroleum used per household.

Because the LED lamps are charged using a pedal-powered generator, the project is a zero emissions activity. Thus, all emissions arising from the continued use of the petroleum lamps being replaced can be recorded as achieved emission reductions, making for an annual 64,642 tCO2.

For a project to be registered as a CDM activity, project developers must show that it could not have been implemented other than using the CDM. Given its low capacity (less than 5 MW) and use of off-grid renewable energy, and the fact that it is conducted in a least developed country (LDC), the Nuru Lighting Project meets all the criteria of a micro-project allowing it to be automatically considered as additional.

Verifying Emission Reductions

To verify whether the project actually achieves the expected emission reductions, a variety of factors must be monitored. The Nuru Lighting Project provides for the data from the small businesses operating the PowerCycle charging stations and selling the LED lamps to be recorded. This allows the number of lamps sold to be calculated and the households using them to be registered. Each lamp has a serial number to enable clear identification.

To ensure that the LED lamps sold remain in operation, an annual sampling survey is conducted in the affected households. The homes included in the survey are selected on the basis of a multilevel random sampling process and the sampling is conducted by independent verifiers. Because the lamps can only be charged using the Nuru PowerCycle, it is ensured that they cannot be charged with electricity taken from the national grid and whose generation may have caused CO2 emissions.

Project Implementation: Current Status

The project is currently undergoing validation by German-based TÜV Nord CERT GmbH. Once validated, the project can by registered by the CDM Executive Board and subsequently implemented.

Project type:

CDM Small Scale

Project partner:

Nuru Lighting


Renewable energy

Project Location:


Project Lifecycle:

10 years (non-extendable)
1.01.2012 – 31.12.2021

Expected Emission Reductions:

64,642 tCO2/year

Project Status:

Undergoing validation

Point of Contact:

Glenn Stuart Hodes
UNEP Risoe Centre on Energy, Climate and Sustainable Development (URC)
Tel.: + 27-7955-99-663

Sloan Holzman
NURU Lighting
Director of Partnerships
Tel.: +254-7177-21-608