What could be better than delivering renewable electricity to the world’s poor? Doing it efficiently for incredibly low costs.
Inventor John Paul Morgan may just have achieved both.
Back in 2007 while working in the African Congo, Morgan watched “water mamas” lug heavy pails of water to and from the local hospital for patients.
Realizing that stable electricity could pump water for them for a few dollars a month, Morgan installed solar panels on the roof of the building. The water mamas could finally take a rest.
He then set to work streamlining our very concept of home solar panel design.
Rather than expensive mirrors, prisms, glass lenses and tellurium, Morgan’s invention, the Sun Simba, is built from methyl methacrylate, a common plastic polymer used in extra-durable windows and hockey rink enclosures.
The panels are slimmer, low-key and incredibly cheap to produce. Where other manufacturers drop $200 million on a solar panel factory, Morgan’s costs ring in at just $25 million.
But low cost doesn’t mean low quality. Conventional solar panels produce electricity at 17% efficiency (and that’s the very best of them), but Sun Simba panels have achieved an astounding 25% efficiency in field tests.
“Just four of our panels would offset the consumption of a typical American home in a year,” he said.
Together with his brother, Nicolas, the two founded Morgan Solar Inc. in Toronto, Canada. They’ve raised over $13 million in private and public funding to date.
Morgan Solar even received an investment from Spain’s Iberdrola SA, the leading renewable energy utility.
What’s the motivation in all this? To give those in developing countries a chance at sustainable life.
Without centralized electric grids, power is scattered and rarely accessible in rural communities. By making it possible to build local solar plants there, Morgan Solar could power off-grid villages and provide new worlds of opportunity for the residents.
“The bigger goal behind bringing electricity into these places is to enable people to pursue more valuable work,” Morgan says. “I believe lower-cost electricity is going to make the world a better place, and it’s the only thing worth devoting my life to.”
Brittany Mauriss is an editor and resident solar expert at GreenMarketing.TV, the green entrepreneur’s source for start-up ideas and insightful interviews with the industry’s top thinkers. She also specializes in solar financing and blogs over at EntrepreneursforaChange.com.