SOLshare: meet the winner of Free Electrons 2018
SOLshare came into Free Electrons programme with a bold mission: to create networks, share solar electricity & eliminate poverty. And they actually proved they can do it – that’s how they became the winners of a $200.000 prize of Free Electrons World’s Best Energy Startup 2018.
Who is SOLshare
A Bangladeshi social enterprise founded by Sebastien Groh in November 2015, it is now a diverse group of people working from Bangladesh, Bogotá and Berlin, to change the way people consume and pay for energy around the globe.
What does SOLshare do
SOLshare is bringing sustainable, affordable energy access for low-income rural people Bangladesh. Their decentralized peer-to-peer microgrids deliver solar power to households and businesses and enable them to trade their (excess) electricity for profit.
How are they doing it? Well, they created a peer-to-peer energy trading platform on blockchain technology.
Bangladesh, where more 10 million people are cut off from the electric power system, was already investing in domestic solar panels called Solar Home System (SHS). SOLshare created the SOLbox – a bi-directional DC electricity meter that enables peer-to-peer electricity trading, smart grid management, remote monitoring, mobile money payment and data analytics.
Through the Solbox, consumers can choose whether they wish to be a buyer of energy or a seller (if they have a solar panel installed), and even sell energy to homes that do not have a solar panel system installed.
By connecting several SHS to each other as well as to homes without electricity, the nano-grid can provide a consistent energy network for an entire village.
The plug-and-play nature of the technology allows the grid to grow dynamically from the ‘bottom-up’ as more users can dynamically connect over time.
The data is stored in the network and the digital platform integrates mobile money infrastructure for remote payment (payments are processed through a phone application via credit or debit) and lockout and provides data analytics and grid management services.
SOLshare’s journey through Free Electrons
Coming into Free Electrons, SOLshare had a lot to offer: with their nano-grids, they could provide to utilities certainty, with their distributed billing they were able to offer controlled systems, and also could provide distributed storage. By partnering up with global utilities, SOLshare had a chance to pilot their products in a long-reaching plan.
They didn’t waste any time partnering up and worked on pilots with both Innogy and Tepco, for a donation platform (Energy SOLidarity Token), where a donor can choose individual users or a predefined group of users (like a village) to donate energy to.
By the end phase of Free Electrons, SOLshare had raised a $1.66M A-series round of investment from utilities EDP and Innogy, and IIX (Impact Investment Exchange).
Leaving an impact
The peer-to-peer solar grids are changing lives in Bangladesh. They are reaching out to isolated, poor communities in Bangladesh and empowering them to upgrade their lives with the use of power in agricultural and day-to-day tasks and even turning them into business people by providing energy to their neighbors.
SOLshare pioneers a micro-energy transition model 3.0 by interconnecting solar home systems in peer-to-peer networks, monetizing excess solar energy along the value chain in real time with mobile money and empowering communities to earn a direct income from the sun.
They are opening up a path that can be used by utilities globally and the future of clean energy.
First Bangladeshi Startup to make it in the 2019 Global Cleantech 100
In its 10th edition, The Global Cleantech 100 is an annual guide to the leading companies and themes in sustainable innovation. It features the private, independent, for-profit companies best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges. SOLshare made it into the list, proving once again it is one of the most innovative and promising ideas in cleantech and that it’s best positioned to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges.
Join the Free Electrons community
If you too have a project that could change the energy industry, apply to Free Electrons – the leading global energy startup accelerator is looking for the brightest startups in the Energy scene to partner up with global utilities in accelerating change in this industry.