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Printed Electronics World
Posted on October 11, 2011 by  & 

Pay as you go solar power

According to the World Bank, 1.6Bn people, over one fifth of the world's population, lack access to electricity via a grid and pay high prices for kerosene to serve basic needs such as lighting. Solar lamps and phone chargers have been available for some time but the initial cost is beyond the reach of many potential users. Now Eight19, a developer and manufacturer of printed plastic solar technology has an inexpensive pay-as-you-go, personal solar electricity system for the developing world.
By offering solar power as a service, without high purchase costs, these users can now access clean electricity for less than their current spend on kerosene. The availability of affordable electricity stimulates social and economic development and provides the energy to power Internet connections and electronic devices.
The IndiGo system consists of a low-cost solar panel produced using a roll-to-roll manufacturing process, a battery unit with inbuilt mobile phone charger and a high efficiency light emitting diode (LED) lamp. Users put credit on their IndiGo device using a scratchcard, which is validated over SMS using a standard mobile phone.
Customer trials are now underway in Kenya and will be extended to Zambia, Malawi and the Indian sub-continent over the next 3 months. The commercial roll-out of IndiGo will start early in 2012.
Steve Andrews, CEO of Solar Aid, a charity that is supporting the Kenya trials, said: "We are excited to be working with Eight19 on this revolutionary technology. Solar energy offers huge economic, health and social benefits to the world's poorest people; for lighting and mobile phone charging. Eight19's technology opens up these benefits to many more people. This is a major breakthrough.'
'We are very encouraged by this new way of delivering energy to off-grid applications in emerging markets" said Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of Eight19. 'Indigo enables a new generation of solar power products that are affordable, providing customers with access, often for the first time, to clean low cost energy that eliminates the health risks and carbon emissions of kerosene.'
Samuel Kimani of Mwiki who has installed the IndiGo system in his house said "I am very happy now because this new IndiGo system replaces my kerosene lighting, which has been a very poor quality of light and creates a lot of air pollution. I am very happy because I can do the charging right here in my own house".
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