The Test

Solar light for all: a defining challenge for humanity

The conundrum of expensive and high-carbon kerosene vastly outselling inexpensive and zero-carbon solar is a defining test of humankind’s instinct for collective survival, Jeremy Leggett argues.

If we cannot quickly replace oil-for-lighting with solar lighting, he asks, given all the blindingly obvious economic and social imperatives for so doing, what chance do we have with all the many other global problems we face?

From the very front lines, as founder and chair of SolarAid, he chronicles the global community’s efforts to pass The Test. The first four chapters set the scene. The rest of the book, intended for free-download publication in 2020, will tell the rest of the story to the point. The ultimate target is 2030, because US Sustainable Development Goal 7 pledges access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by then.


“Leggett brings us another vibrant, first-hand account of the continuing struggle for energy revolution, showing how the tipping point away from fossil fuels has clearly been reached, but that much effort is still required for even simple tasks like ridding Africa of the kerosene lamp.”

Ashley Seager, Former Economics Correspondent, The Guardian

 “….an enthralling, vivid, narrative …if you start reading you won´t be able to stop, I guarantee”

Walt Patterson, Senior Associate, Chatham House

“This book is better than “Game of Thrones” in the tension it creates for me in wanting to know what happens next. Leggett writes about the most important issues of our times – poverty alleviation and climate change solutions – in the mode of a can’t-put-it-down adventure story. Certainly in the wonky world of energy and climate politics you won’t get anything as readable and real. Sign up for free downloads now to find out if we, humanity, will pass The Test and how you can help make it so.”

Danny Kennedy, Managing Director, California Clean Energy Fund

“….gets to the heart of a great global issue, in unputdownable prose”

John Hassard, Imperial College Institute of Security, Science and Technology

“very moving and provocative”

Dan Shugar, CEO, NEXTracker

“….more brilliant insights from Leggett”

Charmian Gooch, Co-founder, Global Witness

“Enough of the pontification: we’re only into chapter 2 of ‘The Test’, and the betrayal of some of East Africa’s poorest people already shouts out for urgent action. This has to be the simplest message in our sustainability world: kill kerosene for lighting now, in the process eliminating billions of dollars of government subsidies. Cut out the poor quality counterfeit lights, and allow today’s quality-verified solar lights to deliver the biggest possible economic benefit to households, communities and national economies alike – in terms of the massive uplift in net purchasing power that would result.”

Jonathan Porritt