Today the SharedSolar team in NYC had a quite different day. We left our offices and head to the UN for the first SE4ALL Forum. It was graet to meet all friends and new people. The community working on sustainable energy access is growing! And that is really nice thing to see. I will try to summarize couple of learnings from Day 1:
Business models, finance and entrepreneurship
It is our impression for years there has been a disconnect between the financial savvy and the rest of the people working on this space. Of course none can argue against market driven solutions. But there are many issues that actually not allow so easily these markets to exists in the first place. Some locations and settings are so poor and remote that cannot sustain full private sector involvement so there is the need of subsidies for hardwarare through national debt. Lighting solutions will continue to do fantastic work reaching millions, but there are enormous needs to provide flexible grid like services to anyone. And that’s probably the fairest aspiration that anyone living in the communication era can aspire.
Solid data for modeling and accountability
This brings us to big gaps on data to sustain modeling and ensure correction measurements in investments and programs to improve accountability. From work at the SEL lab we know that connection costs through grid extensions come many times over 1000 usd per connection, where as a 500Wh/day 24h service based on battery, pv generation and automated management can be easily deployed under that amount. However, much of the information available is anecdotal, and developers of larger systems have high soft costs to overcome relatively new technologies, key human resources needs and challenging environments. Way more work is needed to share costs and to reduce these soft costs. If you want to collaborate on this, send us an email in the contact info session.
Engagement and Governance to not lose generations living the darkness
The key question is not the costs of the electrons but to the affordability of final services to end users. You see, there are many households at the bottom tiers that paying 10 usd/month for electric services represent 10% of their monthly income. It is fair enough that they have access to energy in quantity and whenever they want. So Governments and other institutions require taking a stand and start investing smartly. Practitioners willing to fail are highly needed in this industry. We echo some our fellow colleges that argue that more seed money needs to be given to entrepreneurs to fail more often whilst trying to sell energy services to the poorest people.