Member Highlights – July 2017

Mobisol acquires Lumeter to expand solar pay-as-you-go solution, secures funding from Finnfund

Mobisol, a leader in decentralized solar electrification, announced that it has acquired fellow Practitioner Network member Lumeter, one of the largest providers of pay-as-you-go (PAYG) software for the off-grid solar industry. The acquisition creates strong synergies between Lumeter and Mobisol’s software for pay-as-you-go services. The combined company creates an unrivaled player with strong pricing power, expertise in the metering sector for stand-alone solar systems, and mini-grid solutions. Furthermore, it can deliver PAYG functionalities for large productive systems to underserved areas of the world.

Following this acquisition, the Mobisol platform now supports more than 500,000 people globally with

access to clean, reliable and affordable power. Mobisol estimates that its software saves up to 80% in daily operations. Through a comprehensive feature set, like automated invoicing, remote monitoring to reinforce payments, complete control of the supply chain from production facilities to sales outlets, and automated credit checks, overhead is reduced and digitalization of operations possible.

Mobisol has installed nearly 10 megawatts of capacity in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, providing clean and reliable electricity to households and small businesses in low-income communities. In this way, the company enables rural families and business owners to power a range of appliances such as televisions, stereos, and refrigerators to improve their standard of living and earn incremental income through solar-powered businesses.

Lumeter brings proven pay-as-you-go software for the off-grid solar market that taps into existing micro-finance systems to bring affordable solar power to millions of households without other options. Mobisol is now able to offer the most complete solution, including hardware, software, and operational expertise, for off-grid solar pay-as-you-go power for large consumer uses as well as commercial systems (up to 600Wp). In additino, the acquisition achieves short-term cost savings as well as other long-term strategic opportunities for growth and new revenue opportunities.

In addition, Mobisol has also strengthened its capital base by a substantial senior loan facility from (Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd.), following an already provided senior loan in 2016 to Mobisol’s operations in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. This additional funding, granted up to 10 million Euros, will support Mobisol’s fast expansion in East Africa, where the company installed nearly 10 megawatts of capacity in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, providing clean and reliable electricity to households and small businesses in low-income communities.

d.light launches groundbreaking solar home system

d.light has launched a flagship solar home system that will enable users to not only light their homes and charge their phones, but also watch digital TV channels from the comfort of their homes. The solar X850, which was launched globally at d.light Africa headquarters in Nairobi, is the company’s first foray into a platform-based solar home system for its customers. A platform-based solar home system means that customers can buy the basic home solar kit and then upgrade it without needing to buy an entirely new system.

d.light is also planning a major upgrade across its entire solar lantern products in the next few weeks, in line with its mission of moving its customers up the energy access ladder. Notable in the package is a d.light 19” LED High Definition digital TV, which recently won the Global LEAP award for the world’s most efficient TV in its class.

A standard X850 bundle comes with 5 lights, radio, torch, battery and a panel. It is upgradable to 8 lights and TV, and in the future other 12V appliances that can be powered by its three 12V ports.

The d.light X-series is bundled with patented bulbs and is the first company to offer a tube light with fully customizable brightness.

Registration now open for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’ Clean Cooking Forum 2017

The Clean Cooking Forum 2017 is a landmark, bi-annual gathering of people working to accelerate the production, deployment, and use of cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels, hosted by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

This year’s theme Driving Demand – Delivering Impact will highlight the work that the clean cooking sector is doing to enhance awareness, demand, and use of cleaner and more efficient cookstoves and fuels. The Forum has become the premier global conference for sharing best-practices, developing innovative solutions, and forging new partnerships with global practitioners and influencers in the cookstoves, fuels, and related sectors.

Over 500 participants from the private sector, government, finance, civil society, academia, the UN, and donor community are expected to attend this year’s conference. Co-hosted by the Alliance, Tata Trusts, TERI, and CLEAN, with collaboration from NITI Aayog and several Indian government ministries, this exciting biennial event will be held at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in Delhi, India from October 24th-26th, 2017.

The Forum will include informative sessions, plenaries, networking, site visits (27th and 28th), and a clean cooking exhibition. A number of pre-Forum sessions will take place at the IHC on Monday October 23rd, providing attendees with additional opportunities for learning and discussion. Forum sessions and plenaries will address clean cookstove and fuel interventions, as well as new business and financing models, that can improve lives, protect the environment, and reduce the burden of unpaid care work for women.

Schneider Electric pledges to train 1 million technicians by 2025  

Schneider Electric has pledged to train 1 million people as renewable energy technicians by 2025. Schneider Electric aims to address the demand for skills while reducing unemployment by supporting people from underprivileged backgrounds, working in the informal sector or starting their activities as social entrepreneurs in developing countries. This video explains their Access to Energy effort and their success so far in training more than 100,000.

Last year, Schneider signed an MoU with India to establish a center to train trainers and to setup not less than 100 vocational centers to train, in particular, unemployed youth in the field of energy management and solar energy. In April 2017, they also set up a training center in Ivory Coast. For more perspective, also see Power for All’s previous interview with Schneider’s Thomas Andre on the need for capacity building.

SunCulture’s impact to date & plans for 2017

SunCulture’s great work in 2016 projects that current farmers making use of SunCulture systems will (annually):

  • Save 4,581,600,000 liters of water.
  • Save 750,000 liters of diesel fuel.
  • Generate 189 megawatt-hours of renewable energy.
  • Reduce 828,000 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Grow 24,900,000 kilograms of fresh fruits and vegetables (which is enough food to meet the FAO’s minimum required fresh fruits and vegetables consumption for 113,699 people).
  • Realize $8,477,880 in savings and increased yields.

In 2017, SunCulture closed its first round of equity financing, with Energy Access Ventures, Partners Group, and a number of angel investors having joined in. SunCulture has also partnered with Shell Foundation, an early backer of many emerging market asset financing companies, to pilot its new Pay-As-You-Grow financing platform. This means that farmers who couldn’t afford SunCulture products and services before will now be able to.

SunCulture is also planning expansion into new markets. In 2016 it moved from pilot to a larger scale partnership with one distribution partner, and will continue to partner with organizations who have a strong presence in potential countries of interest for a successful expansion outside Kenya.

On the humanitarian front, SunCulture has completed Somalia’s largest irrigation project, part of a larger mission to improve the resilience of rural and at risk communities in Somalia. SunCulture is offering its services at a discount to any organization working in humanitarian relief in the region to stave off this ongoing and debilitating drought.

Among SunCulture’s near-term innovative goals are:

  • Turn a farmer’s system on or off at certain times based on a number data points tracked by sensors, flow meters, and camera technology.
  • Send farmers a daily SMS with pump usage information and weather reports along with crop management recommendations, and field agents will stand by for phone or on-farm consultations should a farmer require more information.
  • In Kenya, where 67% of the population owns a smartphone, farmers will upload photos of their crops and agronomists will give advice on treating common pests and nutrient problems.
  • Send notifications to fruit and vegetable traders who have partnered with SunCulture when the crops are ready so they can collect the ready produce from the farm.
  • IoT platform will monitor crop health and will apply machine learning to predict the outbreak of pests to streamline the delivery of pest management solutions – this will help make sure that these crops are consistently of high-quality.

For further information on SunCulture’s work and how to get involved, please visit their website.

Total Distributes 2 Million Solar Lamps Worldwide

As of early July, Total has sold 2 million solar lamps worldwide, improving the lives of 10 million people. 90% of these lamps have been sold in Africa alone.

Designed for households that lack access to electricity, Total solar lamps supply affordable, reliable, clean energy. Some of the lamps can also be used to charge small electric devices such as phones. These solar lamps are a safer and better replacement for less effective and more expensive lighting methods like candles, disposable batteries and kerosene.

These solar products come from the Total Access to Energy program, and are built on the Group’s solar expertise and extensive presence in Africa via its wide retail network of over 4000 service stations. New last mile channels and retail models are being created with Total forming global partnerships with major development NGOs and local partnerships to reach the most remote areas.

About 90% of Total solar lamps customers say their lamp has significantly improved their daily lives. Total believes that better access to energy is a fundamental necessity which greatly impacts on access to education, communication, information, and the overall development of individuals and societies.

As an integral part of Totals commitment to providing affordable, reliable, and clean energy, Total’s solar solutions are lighting homes mainly in Africa but also in South America and South East Asia, and are still evolving to meet the needs of millions of people who still do not have access to cleaner energy. The Group’s goal is to sell 5 million lamps by 2020 to improve the lives of 25 million people.

Trine completes Series A funding

Sweden-based Trine, a crowdfunding platform for solar energy projects, has secured 6 million euros in Series A funding led by Gullspång Invest. The new capital will be used to scale TRINE’s operations in East Africa and Europe. By expanding the crowd-investing platform’s funding capacity, TRINE intends to provide 66 million people access to clean energy by 2022, saving 8 million tons of CO2 emissions annually.

Energypedia and GIZ enter strategic partnership for digitalization and energy

In June 2017, energypedia and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) signed a strategic partnership agreement on “Digitalization and Energy”, which aims to promote digital knowledge exchange and sharing as well as technology transfer in the field of renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access topics.

This strategic partnership will facilitate increased collaboration between energypedia and GIZ energy projects in the following areas: global knowledge management, digital documentation of knowledge generated and communication of good practices from GIZ projects, joint webinars and answering questions from GIZ projects through the energypedia community (crowdsourcing).

Parties interested in collaborating with Energypedia and GIZ should contact

UGE to develop 15 PV projects in Ontario

Solar energy solutions provider UGE International has been selected as the winner to engineer and develop 15 PV projects in Ontario for Peterborough Solar Projects Corporation (PSPC) — a partnership between Peterborough Utilities Inc. (PUI) and the City of Peterborough.

Once completed, the 15 solar installations will boast a total generation capacity of 9MW and will be developed across a number of sites in Ontario. PSPC was first awarded the 15 500kW AC feed-in-tariff (“FIT”) contracts for ground-mounted solar projects as part of the utility’s and city’s goal to grow investment in clean energy.

UGE was selected for these projects through a competitive process to provide all engineering, procurement, construction, and commissioning services on the projects based on UGE’s extensive experience. UGE has completed more 50kW ground-mounted FIT projects than any other company in Ontario.

SolarOne Solutions Releases New SO-Simple Category of Solar Lighting

SolarOne Solutions Inc. announced a new category of “SO-Simple” products to provide fully configured solar lighting systems for simple outdoor lighting applications. SolarOne is known for its ability to offer customized solutions for solar street, area, and specialty lighting. With the recent acquisition of Inovus Solar, SolarOne has even more to offer customers and specifiers.

The new SO-Simple category addresses the need for quick selection and specification. The SO-Simple category includes the Performance Series and the Design Series. The Performance Series uses traditional flat-plate solar panels and external electrical/battery enclosures while the Design Series features a “Wrapped-Pole,” where the solar panel, battery, and controls are all integrated into the pole. Both series feature options for Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries with extra-long battery warranties. The first applications addressed by the SO-Simple category include solar powered pedestrian, bike, parking, and roadway lighting.

Although the SO-Simple products allow customers to select and understand systems on their own, SolarOne will still be there to assist with project design. SolarOne offers a unique design service, the “Virtual Site Analysis” that combines shading analysis with photometric design, resulting in the best possible project outcome.

SolarOne will also continue to offer custom-configured systems using standard sub-assemblies paired with world-class luminaires from world-class manufacturers. Custom-configured systems address common street and area lighting applications as well as commercial grade sign, shelter, and flag lighting.