German off-grid solar provider Mobisol has now installed over 50,000 systems in East Africa. The company estimates a quarter of a million people now receive sustainable electricity from its solar solutions, which is an incredible landmark in a growing markets of Tanzania and Rwanda, defined once as having little access to the electric grid.
“Mobisol systems are available in four different sizes ranging from 80, 100, 120 to 200 Wp. The smallest unit can e.g. illuminate a medium-sized home with seven LED bulbs as well as power a radio, charge various mobile phones and run a TV for some hours during the day. The largest system powers multiple lights, consumer appliances such as a laptop/TV, a DC refrigerator and charges up to ten mobile phones simultaneously. There is easily enough electricity created each day to run a small business or for Mobisol customers to simply sell or pass on their excess energy to their community.
“Mobisol solar home systems come complete with several LED light bulbs, portable lantern, mobile phone charger and balance-of-system components including wiring and switches. The plug’n play Mobisol systems are quickly installed by locally trained and certified Mobisol technicians – simply by using a hammer.”
“It’s like an iPhone, the main reason that the iPhone is so popular is because of the apps,” said Mobisol corporate development manager Klaus Maier in an interview with pv magazine. “If it didn’t have the apps then people wouldn’t have to much they could do with it. This is why we include the appliances people can use. Plus, it’s good for us if our customers can generate income, as then it’ll be easier for them to pay back the loan.”
The company has now installed 50,000 of its off-grid systems in East Africa, which combined equals over 5 MW of solar capacity, making Mobisol the largest in East Africa in terms of capacity. Earlier in the month, when pv magazine was shown round its headquarters in Berlin, a digital ticker on the office wall, that counts every system that is installed, read 48,836.
“When we commercially launched our products three years ago, our main vision was to mitigate climate change,” commented Mobisol founder and CEO Thomas Gottschalk. “Fifty thousand installed solar systems later, I am even more thrilled to see our customers’ happiness when they turn on their lights, TV and fridge for the first time, or start up a small energy-based business. Access to clean, affordable and reliable energy literally empowers entire nations to live up to their potential – improving economic well-being and uplifting communities’ quality of life.”
The company has also been experimenting with alternatives for delivering its affordable solar energy products to off-grid areas in Africa. The list of options might even include using an air delivery system of drones.
Innovative financing plans tackle energy poverty
Mobisol clients currently pay off the monthly installments using their mobile phones. After three years, they fully own their personal electricity source. The company states its customers have given very positive feedback and have expressed how much their quality of life has improved since owning their solar home system. By all appearances, the company’s business model is not only proving to be successful, but something which can be expanded in other locales.
Product options like these are fueling growth for the off-grid solar market in Africa, which is expected to grow at a fast pace as the solutions become more and more practical and affordable.
As we like to emphasize over and over again: “Let there be light.”
Images via Mobisol
Mobisol technology looks good, I just wonder if more families could use it together, to make a mini-grid, that would make it more financially available for people with less cash.
And, what is the option to recycle the batteries, they look great, but what happens when they are finished?
Can you elaborate on this?
It seems that decentralized solar power is a game changer in Africa, and many other parts of the world.