Pay-As-You-Go Solar Could Provide Clean Electricity to 1 Billion
Up to 1 billion people in the world still lack or have unsteady access to electricity. For these people, kerosene, a dirty petroleum product, is usually the fuel of choice--or more accurately, they have no choice. This US$36 billion a year industry often consumes 30 to 35 percent of poor families’ income. Nevertheless there is hope without giving Westerners the willies that we are going to kill the planet by carbon emissions. Solar energy, specifically solar printing, could be an answer. One company working on this front is Eight19, a United Kingdom-based company that provides printed plastic solar cells that are flexible, lightweight and can be used on a bevy of solar-powered applications. Eight19 confronts the problem that the world’s poor face when choosing a fuel. While kerosene is relatively expensive, families are used to making these payments on an as-needed basis. Meanwhile clean energy options like solar power systems require payment up front. IndiGo, Eight19’s latest product, combines mobile telephone technology to provide pay-as-you-go solar. Users benefit from a unit that can light two rooms, and buy mobile phone credits that can then provide light for children’s homework at night or street vendors the ability to work when it is dark. The system is also scalable and can expand to cover more rooms if required by users. This high tech social innovation scheme provides countless opportunities at so many levels. Expect other companies to launch similar services in the coming years.
Currently Eight19 is at the
World Future Energy Summit at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. With countries like the UAE taking a more active role and providing international aid, this is one such solution that can offer countless bang for the buck . . . or the dirham. From the Middle East to rural Latin America, pay-as-you-go solar could build wealth and clean the air.
Photos of IndiGo rolling out in Kenya courtesy of Eight19’s Facebook Page.
Click here to read more on our coverage of social enterprise.