4 Factors, and the emerging billion.

I’ve been to Honduras several times on mission trips to install water filters with Pure Water for the World. I saw firsthand how people live outside of our “first world” existence; no clean drinking water, few paved roads, no underground sanitation, and no power grid.

There are 7.5 billion people on our planet right now:

In other words MORE of the world lives like the folks in Honduras. There are a billion people who do not have daily access to clean drinking water, for instance.

Technology will help many people transition from poverty to the middle class, and there are 4 main technological forces that will drive this transition.

  1. Smartphones everywhere. Check out this graph: This means that more people will have instant communication with internet access. The most advanced phones sold for $500 right now will be sold as used phones for pennies on the dollar in 2020.
  2. Less expensive solar. Even a small panel can charge up a smartphone for a few hours. In areas without a power grid solar panels can provide electricity for cooking, LED lighting and internet access. Solar panels can power a well pump and a filtration device for clean drinking water. Solar is cheap now:    

Solar panels are robust and last decades, so a family who buys 3 or 4 panels can provide power for their family for many years. This is especially beneficial for communities that are hundreds of miles away from a traditional power grid.

3. Less Expensive battery storage. As the electric car market heats up the global demand for inexpensive battery power will ramp up as well:

It doesn’t really matter where the batteries are made, they will eventually find wide distribution in the developing world. As production increases the price point for battery storage will go down, and there will even be demand for used batteries. The 16kW battery in my Chevy Volt can be used for home energy storage even after it is no longer effective in my car. When you combine cheap solar with cheap energy storage? This gives poor folks LED light at night, phones with internet access, power to cook without burning wood, and power to pump and filter drinking water.

4. Last, but not least…. YouTube. Not for cat videos, but to learn practical solutions to local problems. You don’t need to read or write to learn from a video.

YouTube is the cheapest university on the planet, even if you don’t speak the language used in the video. Here is a video that teaches how to set up an off grid solar array:

A cheap smartphone, charged by a solar panel, with battery storage and YouTube access?

In the hands of a billion people who want to lift themselves out of poverty?

There is untapped potential out there. As these 4 factors come together we will see a much larger global middle class, which means more demand for basic services, a larger global economy and more opportunity.

With fully deployed green tech we don’t need to worry about a lack of resources, there is enough sunshine falling on the earth to supply every human being with electricity, food and clean water.

It all comes down to the 4 factors; smartphones, solar, cheap batteries and YouTube.

Ben Alexander

June . 2017