For every 2000 UK customers it signs up, Manchester-based Brighter World Energy has promised to install an African microgrid at break-even cost.
The firm announced this week that it has completed a £500,000 ($610,000) seed capital round with the help of European impact investment bank ClearlySo.
As opposed to ‘one-off “free” projects’ which ‘do not work’, the company said it would aim to ensure a 25-year lifespan for its solar microgrids through charging end users a fee for use, to ensure that there are funds available ‘so that if a repair is needed – such as a battery or solar panel breaks – it can be replaced’.
‘We will also employ and train people within the village to conduct basic repairs; refill the microgrid’s battery packs with distillable water or clean down the solar panels, so they remain efficient,’ Brighter World Energy said.
The microgrids are planned to be connected to a mobile metering system that can be remotely monitored from the UK.
Brighter World Energy founder and CEO Cheryl Latham told Decentralized Energy that the microgrids 'will be small remote systems, varying in size dependent on need'. The company is currently finalizing potential locations, she said, noting that the installations 'will be in some of the remotest parts of the world, such as on the edge of Lake Victoria where fishing villages have no electricity to refrigerate stock and have to slash the cost of their catch as it gets warm throughout the day'.
Latham said the firm is in discussions with potential African partners.
‘With more than a billion unconnected people around the world, making a simple switch here at home will turn on the lights for villages in Africa for the very first time,' she added. 'Everyone should have the same right to access energy, no matter where they are born.’