Solar PV : Pay-as-you-go model

It appears that finally the pay-as-you-go model is slowly gaining traction in communities that cannot afford solar.  There is an interesting article about Angaza, which has introduced this model in Africa.  According to the article, “originally, the startup planned on selling its SoLite three-watt home solar system–a portable LED light and solar panel combination that can light up a whole room–in Africa for an upfront cost of $50 to $60. But they weren’t able to sell the systems quickly enough–hence the pay as you go model. “Families in east Africa don’t have large sums of money to purchase products at one time even though the payback is great,” explains Lesley Silverthorn Marincola, CEO of Angaza. The key to the pay as you go model is a series of hardware modifications within the light that connects it to the local cellular network as well as mobile money platforms–that way, customers can easily pay via services like M-Pesa. A cloud-based energy management platform regulates activity. “It’s like how pre-paid cell phones work, where you buy a phone and prepaid minutes. Here, you buy a physical kit, but in order to make the light function you have to buy energy credits,” says Marincola.”
Another major player in this segment is Azuri Technologies. This company is a part of the UK based firm, Eight19 .
In India, Simpa Networks has been working on a very similar model. A very useful article from World Bank about Simpa Networks can be found here . The article says “Simpa Networks has developed a metered solar energy system that generates electricity and can be installed in any rural home. The system can be purchased for a small upfront cost and can be recharged (through local agents via SMS) according to usage. If the meter runs out, it switches off and comes back on once the user has paid for a recharge (recharge amounts vary from 50-500 rupees). But the real proposition is that as the user recharges the system, he or she is slowly paying to own the system. Once enough recharges have been made (across a period of approximately 3-5 years), the system unlocks and produces solar power for free.
The key in this model is the metering, payment system and recharging. pv magazine, in its recent article on the subject profiles the company Powerhive Inc . This company develops the metering equipment that can be recharged using mobile phones. The overview of the technology can be found here.
We are witnessing a convergence of communication technology and energy, which has resulted in a very interesting business model. If this model is successful, then light is not far away for the more than 1 billion people who do not have access to quality and reliable power.

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