Bringing clean energy to communities living off the grid
Jeanette Uwamahoro, a young farmer in the Nganwa village in Rwanda, was “tired of living in the dark.” She was part of over 75% of the country’s population with no access to the electricity grid, relying on expensive batteries and polluting kerosene lamps. Worldwide, 1.2 billion people live without electricity, and the UN has made access to affordable and sustainable energy one of its Development Goals.
The team at MeshPower, a company founded by engineer graduates from Imperial College, with investment from Google’s Gerald Ainger, believe that solar microgrids are the best way to provide clean and affordable electricity to off-grid communities in developing countries.
MeshPower sets up solar panels linked to a base station, which includes battery storage at a designated customer’s house or business. The customer gets free electricity in exchange for keeping the base station secure.
The rest of the village is then connected to the base station by cables, which lead to individual MeshPower units, serving as electricity meters. MeshPower provides all equipment for free, charging just for energy. Customers are also provided with live monitoring through a GSM connection, which allows remote MeshPower staff to prevent or tackle any hardware or outage issues.
Jeanette became MeshPower’s 1,000th customer in June 2016, and couldn’t be happier with the results for her small farm, saying that the service is “cheaper than the batteries we were using.”
The off-grid renewable energy sector has the potential to be one of the key drivers of Rwanda’s growth. MeshPower is currently rolling out the service in Ngoma and Bugesera districts, with plans of expanding to other parts of Rwanda and 10,000 customers soon. The company also hired 20 full-time Rwandan employees and supports the country’s government initiatives to promote access to green, reliable and affordable energy.
Find out more at http://meshpower.co.uk
Image courtesy of MeshPower
Last updated: 13th of September, 2016