Monday, 12 March 2012

Solar Success: How Companies Are Making Solar Power Affordable

Of all the available renewable energies solar power is currently one of the easiest to harness on an individual level, you can even by solar chargers and lights at places like Home Depot! Solar panels can be utilized even under cloudy skies, although energy production generally dips down to 50%, and can produce as little as 10% on an extremely overcast day. Naturally, it is most efficient in areas where there are the large amounts of direct sunlight. With companies like Eight19 finding ways to keep costs low and develop efficient off-grid modules, solar power is shaping up to be a conceivable way of bringing electricity to many rural areas.

Rural Solar

Eight19 takes its name from the time it takes sunlight to reach the earth - 8 minutes and 19 seconds. Its mission is to develop the technologies and manufacturing processes that will bring off-grid solar power to a new generation of users, transforming lives and accelerating economic development. Today, there are 1.6Bn people in the world without electricity. The majority live in the world’s most economically deprived communities, where the up-front cost of solar power is unaffordable. Eight19’s printed plastic solar technology is designed to deliver flexible, lightweight, robust and lower cost solar cells for a variety of solar-powered applications.
Eight19 is able to keep manufacturing costs down by using printed plastic, a technology originally developed at Cambridge University. This produces affordable, lightweight, and durable solar cells.

For under-developed countries such as Africa, it is important to utilize technology that does not require significant infrastructure like electrical grids. Eight19 developed IndiGo, a solar lighting and battery-charging system that works like a pay-as-you-go mobile account.

The company recently completed a trial run among a approximately 200 rural Kenyan families. For a $10 deposit, Eight19 loaned to a family a solar cell that generates 2.5 watts of electricity. According to Eight19, when fully activated, this is enough power to light two small rooms and charge a cell phone for seven hours.

To use the module the families had to buy scratch cards, for approximately one dollar, which have specific PINs that must be texted to Eight19. Once families have bought approximately $80 worth of scratch cards, they have paid off the solar cell and now own it. After this initial investment, the families are free to use the solar cells forever.

$10 deposit = 1 solar cell generating 2.5 watts electricity
(fully activated = 2 small rooms and 1 cell phone for 7 hours)

+ (80 x $1 scratch cards) = $90
= solar power for life

Eight19 also offers an option to trade in for a larger cell through the IndiGo Energy Escalator.

See more solar success stories here at Restoring the Power.

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!