400m Indians have limited access to electricity, experiencing 9 hours of power cuts on average daily and 300m have no access to electricity at all (Bloomberg, 2016). Access to electricity is essential for development, education and quality of life improvement (WHO, 2016). In off-grid regions, population growth far outpaces electrification and despite plentiful sunlight, solar produces only 0.2% of electricity due to factors including poor quality technologies and cost (GSMA, 2013).
Solution & Challenges
BuffaloGrid (BG) has developed a scalable network of affordable solar powered smartphone charging Hubs for off-grid regions, currently operating at small scale (20 Hubs) in Uttar Pradesh (India) giving users local access to sustainable energy. BG plan to scale its network of Hubs across South Asia and then globally, however, poor mobile data coverage in remote regions prevents Hubs dispensing charge. This in turn prevents offgrid users accessing sustainable energy.
Funding from the MBR Challenge Fund will allow BG to integrate mesh network hardware into its Hubs. This reliable data connection to the BG cloud platform will enable dispensing of charge in remote areas, expanding BG’s potential operating locations and increasing scalability. The funding will allow BG to run extensive trials to test/optimise the system and demonstrate improved access to sustainable energy.