Courtesy of Azuri-Tech
“Upgrading to electricity” is not a phrase most industrialized world denizens think about much, given that it happened a century ago. For 20 percent of people on earth, though, the electric grid isn’t making it to their slums and rural villages—not any time soon. Instead they rely on smelly, smoky, eye-stinging kerosene lamps for feeble light at night.
But solar panels don’t require connection to the rest of the electric grid, and their prices are dropping. One solar panel on a roof and you’ve electrified your house: hello, LED lights and cellphone charging. In some locales, bottom of the pyramid demand for mobile charging is actually driving demand for solar power, with lights coming along for the ride.
Simpa Networks, an Indian company, has integrated solar tech with mobile phone payments. They install a solar panel on the roof and wire it through the house to a mounted box. The controls are assigned a code which the customer punches in when paying via cell. Each payment goes toward ultimately owning the system. Once paid off, the panel produces electricity at virtually no cost.