Simpa Networks, based in Bangalore, India, provides affordable access to solar energy through a "pay as you go" system for using and eventually purchasing solar home systems (SHS).
The fact is - over 2 billion people in the world have unreliable access to electricity, and the majority of these people rely on kerosene for light. Kerosene is dirty, inefficient, presents health risks, and ultimately, is very expensive with its high operating costs. However, the advantage of kerosene is its low initial cost and its usage flexibility.
Small-scale solar home systems are much more appropriate than kerosene for meeting the needs of the consumers at the "base of the economic of the pyramid" (BoP) - however, the upfront cost ($200-400) is the limiting factor in widespread usage of these systems. Though SHS systems are also undoubtedly more economical in the long-term than kerosene (over the 10-year life of an SHS system, a household would spend about $1500-2000 on equivalent costs for kerosene lighting), households simply can not afford the high upfront cost.
Simpa Networks has developed a solar solution with an innovative pricing model to compete with kerosene products. With Simpa Networks' Progressive Purchase technology, the consumer makes a prepayment for a certain quantity of kWh which unlocks the solar home system. When the payment has run out, the system is disable until a new prepayment is made. Once the consumer has fully paid the total price of the product, the system is permanently unlocked.
As they put it, "mobile phones are the great leapfrog story of the past decade. distributed solar is next".
And I totally agree. In order for the BoP to have widespread adoption of clean and reliable energy, we need to think differently about the economics.
And clearly, Simpa Networks is doing just that.