United Nations has called on
businesses, governments, and
civil society to achieve Sustainable
Energy for All by 2030
Member Highlights – July 2016
In an effort to expand quality solar home system solutions, d.light, a market leader in solar lighting and home system solutions in the developing world, as well as one of the early pioneers of the Pay-As-You-Go (PayGo) model, is licensing its pay-as-you-go financing technology to partners and distributors around the world. Now, local partners can have access to the same PayGo solution d.light uses for its own operations, including payment systems, customer support and inventory management tools.
d.light has PayGo partners in six countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and expects to double this number by the end of the year. d.light’s PayGo Platform provides unparalleled flexibility to meet the needs of a variety of partners. In addition to supporting a full range of payment options, d.light provides the technical support required to establish payment, customer support and credit distribution systems in country. The backbone of these systems is d.light’s proprietary software platform, d.light Atlas, one of the most comprehensive, flexible, and reliable PayGo systems currently available. In addition to gaining access to d.light Atlas, partners also gain access to d.light’s expertise in running PayGo operations, including how-to guides for starting a pay-as-you-go business and assistance in recruiting and training key personnel.
To date, d.light has impacted the lives of over 62 million people around the world by giving them access to affordable, safe and reliable power, with the goal of reaching 100 million by 2020.
Tanzanian off-grid energy provider Off Grid Electric (OGE) has unveiled its new “business in a box” offering, providing a range of solar appliances designed to support rural entrepreneurs across Africa in running their businesses. Off Grid Electric unveiled the launch of Kazi na Zola (Work with Zola in Swahili), a full suite of solar appliances designed to help rural entrepreneurs create successful businesses and generate income, at President Obama’s 7th annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Palo Alto, California.
Kazi na Zola is a business in a box designed to give local self-starters the tools they need to run their businesses – whether a barbershop, charging shop, bar, or restaurant – completely on solar. The tailored offerings include tools such as phone charging strips, entertainment systems and hair clippers. The product is financed over time via small micro-payments collected through mobile money allowing first-time entrepreneurs to generate income right away. OGE has successfully piloted the Kazi na Zola product line in Tanzania. The full Kazi na Zola product line will be available nationwide by the end of the year.
Lighting Global releases two new Technical Notes
The Lighting Global team has released two new Technical Notes; one details the equipment required for accurately measuring light output in an integrating sphere, and the other describes Lighting Global’s battery testing procedures.
Technical Note Issue 22, “Integrating Sphere Measurement Part III: Equipment” is the final Note in a three-part series covering the proper testing equipment and techniques for LED lighting systems. The series is intended as a technical reference and staff teaching aid for laboratories involved in testing pico-powered lighting systems. This final Note discusses the equipment used in an integrating sphere testing system with an emphasis on low-cost options for testing pico-powered and solar home system lighting products. It also provides details and references for the specific equipment used by the Lighting Global program for luminous flux measurements.
Technical Note Issue 23, “Battery Testing for Off-grid Solar Products” discusses issues related to the service life of batteries in solar products, with a focus on Lighting Global’s battery testing policy. Battery failure mechanisms are briefly outlined, along with a selection of battery testing procedures that Lighting Global has determined are cost-effective and can be performed in a reasonable time frame. Justification is given for Lighting Global’s approach to battery testing, including a discussion of battery cycle tests that are not included in the Lighting Global program.
Topics for other Lighting Global Technical Notes may be suggested at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mobisol has now installed over 50,000 systems in East Africa, and estimates a quarter of a million people now receive sustainable electricity from its solar solutions, which is a significant impact in the growing markets of Tanzania and Rwanda, equaling over 5 MW of solar capacity and making Mobisol the largest provider in East Africa in terms of capacity.
Mobisol systems are available in four different sizes, with the smallest unit able to illuminate a medium-sized home with seven LED bulbs as well as power a radio, charge various mobile phones and run a TV for some hours during the day. The largest system powers multiple lights, consumer appliances such as a laptop/TV, a DC refrigerator and charges up to ten mobile phones simultaneously. There is easily enough electricity created each day to run a small business or for Mobisol customers to simply sell or pass on their excess energy to their community.
Mobisol solar home systems come complete with several LED light bulbs, portable lantern, mobile phone charger and balance-of-system components including wiring and switches. The plug’n’play Mobisol systems are quickly installed by locally trained and certified Mobisol technicians – simply by using a hammer.
Orb Energy continues to grow its success in India
Orb Energy has reached a number of milestones in the past year, including the following:
- Completed the installation of its largest rooftop solar project to date – a 500 kW system for Janatha Fish Meal Company in Udupi, Karnataka, which now powers the company’s entire facility in Udupi, with any excess power produced being exported to the grid.
- Delivered nearly 5 MW of rooftop solar systems in financial year 2015-2016.
- Launched a new 3-year credit facility for SMEs looking to buy a rooftop solar system, to combat lack of sufficient cash or collateral to afford the up-front cost of a rooftop solar system. Orb’s new credit facility does not require any collateral from an SME customer, and thus allows them to keep their capital focused on their core business.
- Launched a new product with unique “Prioritizer” technology to help customers charge their existing battery inverter systems with solar energy. The “PV Prioritizer”, Orb’s latest Solectric system for residential use, deploys technology that has been designed and developed by Orb in-house to charge a customer’s existing battery inverter system while at the same time prioritizing solar charging over grid charging – helping customers reduce their electricity bill while guaranteeing more reliable back-up power in the case of prolonged power cuts.
Sunlabob recently finalized a contract to provide turnkey implementation of eleven solar-powered micro-grids in remote communities of Myanmar. The micro-grids will provide reliable, clean energy access at the household level in 11 villages throughout Shan State and Chin State, Myanmar.
The project is under the guidance of Myanmar’s Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development’s Department of Rural Development and is funded by the Japanese International Cooperation System. Sunlabob, which has implemented off-grid renewable energy solutions in more than 25 countries of Southeast Asia, Africa and the Pacific region, will provide material supply, design, and construction of the battery-backed solar power systems. Sunlabob engineers and technicians will also provide hands-on training for local maintenance technicians and household end-users.
Lumos Global, a leading off-grid solar electricity company, has been named a winner at the FT/IFC Transformational Business Awards – the annual awards given by the Financial Times (FT) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in London.
The Awards recognize companies making a transformational impact in developing economies by providing groundbreaking, long-term and financially viable private sector solutions to key development issues. Lumos – alongside the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) – was Highly Commended for Low-Carbon Urban Transformation, a category highlighting innovative projects that address challenges around energy demand and supply, and climate change. In addition to its equity investments, Lumos received a $15 million commitment from OPIC to support the scaling up of its work providing solar electricity throughout Nigeria. This constitutes the largest OPIC investment to the off-grid power sector in Africa.
In July 2016 SolarWorks! launches its pay-as-you-go (PAYG) offering in the Matola region just outside Maputo city, where their shop, office and warehouse is located. Within 12 months the aim is to have two other shop openings north of Maputo. From there SolarWorks! aims to grow exponentially towards the north of Mozambique, with the goal to have 100,000 solar home systems installed within 5 years.
Thanks to Mozambique’s significant potential for off-grid renewable energy systems and given the benefits of PAYG models, SolarWorks! is expected to be the first of many other companies to start operating in the Mozambique market. Several initiatives are already taking place to facilitate this process – for more detailed information on these and other activities for the promotion of renewable energy in Mozambique, check ALER’s national status report.
ARE launches Off-grid Job Platform
The Alliance for Rural Electrification’s Off-grid Job Platform showcases available off-grid renewable energy jobs and offers a useful recruitment platform for companies who wish to find appropriate and motivated candidates for their vacancies and equally allows motivated individuals to find jobs that match their ambitions. Individuals looking for jobs in renewable energy are encouraged to use the platform and to share their CV with ARE for circulation. Companies interested in making use of this service or in sponsoring the platform are kindly requested to contact the ARE Secretariat.
PEG completes $7.5 million round to expand activities in West Africa
PEG, the leading off-grid solar company in Ghana, has closed a $7.5 million Series A round funding which will be used to expand operations in Ghana, build out the management team, and enter the Ivory Coast market.
PEG provides loans for solar home systems and other useful assets to off-grid households in West Africa using pay-as-you-go technology. PEG has over 10,000 customers and operates 29 service centers in 7 regions of Ghana. PEG’s customers are typically farmers or fisherman living in peri-urban or rural areas, who earn $1-$10 per day. They currently spend up to 30% of their incomes on poor-quality, polluting fuels like kerosene and candles or on batteries. A PEG customer who takes a loan for a solar home system can not only expect to receive access to clean, convenient light, radio and phone charging, but will also save up to $800 over the useful life of the solar system. In addition, as less than 30% of PEG’s customers have access to microfinance or local banks, the loan provided by PEG allows them to start building a credit history, which can transform their ability to access finance.
The Series A investment comes from a $4.3 million A-2 round and follows an earlier A-1 investment of $3.2 million in September 2015. The A-2 round was led by Energy Access Ventures and includes Blue Haven Initiative, as well as follow-on investment from existing investors, Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) and Engie Rassembleurs d’Energies. These investors join Impact Assets and Persistent Energy Capital, among others.
MeshPower reaches 1,000th customer in Rwanda
A young farmer in Nganwa Village, Bugesera District, has become the 1,000th customer of electricity provider MeshPower Rwanda, powering LED lights and a mobile phone charger in her home for the first time. A MeshPower solar-powered nano-grid can provide electricity to up to 100 different homes and small businesses in a rural village at a time. Each village shares the power generated on solar panels, but every customer has an individual account and can use the power for different equipment.
MeshPower has been expanding its services rapidly since it started in 2014 and now offers affordable, reliable and clean energy to over 45 different villages in the Bugesera district, south of Kigali. MeshPower’s system provides affordable, renewable, 24-hour electricity through its solar-powered nano-grid systems, which provide cabling and smart load management to distribute low voltage 48V DC electricity (powering lights, phone chargers and TVs) to up to 100 families per village. Every customer has their own account, which is managed and paid for via GSM connection. Revenue comes from a fee-for-service subscription model, so customers pay only for the electricity they use, rather than purchasing assets and long-term contracts.