Home » Industry » Solar Access Unveils Pay-As-You-Go Scheme

Solar Access, a division of TeleAccess Zimbabwe, is pioneering the new pay-as-you-go solar technology in an exclusive distributorship arrangement with United Kingdom-based solar expert Azuri Technologies.

Azuri Technologies was named as Global Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum in 2013.

The distributorship agreement, which was signed on Monday, will bring solar power for lighting and mobile charging to a targeted plus 250 000 households in the next 12 months. The pay-as-you-go solar project will run on the TeleAccess Zimbabwe platform.

It allows users to pay for solar power on a pay-as-you-go basis, just the same way they do for mobile phones.

The World Bank estimates the country’s overall electrification rate at 36,9 percent and this provides a ready market for the pay-as-you-go solar system.

The pay-as-you-go energy comes from as little as $20, with no upfront installation costs, a unique selling point that executive chairman Dr Daniel Shumba said will ensure low-income earners will have access to energy round the clock.

Instead of upfront costs, the system is unlocked for use by the regular purchase of top-up credit, typically costing less than the paraffin and phone charging fees. While renewable energy alternatives are widely available, upfront costs make these systems prohibitively expensive for many off-grid consumers and small businesses.

“I am developing a significant investment portfolio in renewable energy solutions for Zimbabwe and I see Azuri’s technology and pay-as-you-go business model as a perfect fit for Zimbabwe and the sub-regional market. We have already begun to actualise our business activities in fulfilment of our national economic blueprint, Zim-Asset,” said Dr Shumba.

It is estimated that off-grid consumers spend some $17 billion each year on paraffin for lighting alone.

Currently, Solar Access will concentrate on lighting only but upgrades will be extended to power television sets, cooking sets and other electrical gadgets.

The pay-as-you-go system comes with a solar panel which has a design life of 25 years a battery integrated into the recharge unit with a six to seven years design life and Philips LED lamps with a design life of up to seven years before dimming by about 5 percent only.

Solar Access’ new system replaces the old solar system which carried a solar panel, inverter and car battery.

The new system is environmentally friendly running on lithium iron phosphate batteries, arguably the safest and environmentally friendly battery.

“There are two different types of battery technology lithium iron technology and lithium iron phosphate technology. Lithium iron technology can overheat but lithium iron phosphate technology, which we are using, is one of the most stable battery technologies in the world. So stable that you do not have to go through recycling when disposing of this battery and is environmentally friendly,” said Dr Simon Bransfield-Garth, chief executive officer of Azuri Technologies Limited.

The entry-level PayGo solar home system provides eight hours of clean lighting each day and the opportunity to charge mobile phones at home.

After installation, a user purchases a scratch card each month for $20 to top up and enter the one-time top-up code into their unit and can enjoy power for a month.

The unit automatically shuts off on a time basis. Over the course of about 24 months, the purchase of scratch cards allows the system to be paid off and the customer can choose to either unlock their Solar Access system forever or upgrade to a larger model.

The system is available in two variants, incorporating either Philips’ standard (60 lumen minimum) or high brightness (120 lumen minimum) LED cards, the new lamps feature in fully digital solar home systems, and provide a lighting quality more of the same kind to that of on-grid products in developed markets.

The new LED lamps produce a superior quality of light compared to many earlier solar products available to rural off-grid users. Using a typical Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT) of 4000K, the new lights deliver a balanced whiteyellow light which is warmer on the colour spectrum, creating illumination that is more restful on the eye and reduces the potential for sleep disruption compared to cooler, white-blue light.

The lamps have been designed to be robust and durable, providing optimal output for at least eight hours of use each night, to ensure that each solar home system can continue to provide free, clean light to the consumer long after they have completed payment.

They combine a typical efficiency of about 10 times a standard tungsten bulb and low voltage operation and have been specifically designed for battery-powered off-grid systems.

Source : The Herald