Tuesday Project Spotlight: SOLshare
In 2021, the World Bank reported that Bangladesh had the largest off-grid solar power program in the world. The program enabled 20 million Bangladeshis to access electricity. However, energy poverty is moribund. SOLshare aims to change that.
Recent winner of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, SOLshare has developed what they are calling “peer-to-peer microgrids”—an IoT-driven trading platform that enables people to trade the excess solar energy generated by solar home systems (SHS). SHS-users utilize SOLshare to sell their excess energy to non-SHS-users, people who cannot afford solar technology for their home, and those who would otherwise not have access to affordable electricity.
Through SOLshare, homes with rooftop solar panels sell their excess electricity back into a microgrid network and others buy it. This provides poor communities with a new source of income from the sun, while being a green energy source for buyers. Thus, rural communities can trade solar power, reduce their emissions, and increase their household incomes.
SOLshare’s peer-to-peer microgrids consist of three components: the SOLbox; the SOLapp; and SOLweb.
SOLbox is a bi-directional DC electricity meter that enables peer-to-peer electricity trading, smart grid management, remote monitoring, mobile money payment, and data analytics. The SOLbox enables the creation of a DC smart grid, integrating with existing hardware, such as a solar home system or battery, and connecting with other SOLboxes in nearby homes or businesses.
The SOLapp manages customer portfolios, taking user information and payment details into account. It updates accordingly with user activities and energy consumption. The information from SOLbox and the SOLapp is then passed onto the SOLweb, where all the information is gathered and analyzed to understand system paradigms and irregularities.
The SOLbox, SOLapp, and SOLweb together enable one house to connect to another through the SOLbazaar trading platform. As the SOLshare network grows, it can connect with the national grid, operating in “island mode” when the grid is unavailable, and drawing power from the grid when it is available.
But SOLshare is focused on more than just home energy.
This image was originally posted to Flickr by Nasir Khan Saikat at https://flickr.com/photos/48383507@N06/9601873282. It was reviewed on 31 May 2016 by FlickreviewR and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rickshaw_Parking_at_Dhaka_(9601873282).jpg.
Dhaka city is known as the Rickshaw capital of the world and has more than 1.5 million electric three-wheelers. The city’s density makes rickshaws an affordable, accessible, and fast mode of transport, serving a market of more than 20 million. In order to increase the profits of electric three-wheeler drivers, SOLshare has introduced new battery technology and improved battery financing.
The challenges with charging infrastructure in Dhaka are many. Currently, the market is flooded with cheap lead-acid batteries, which are overcharged. This leads to short battery life and the need for recharging on a grid that is largely powered by fossil fuels. Because of how expensive the grid is for drivers to tap into, they face debt at high-interest rates, financing issues, and registration problems.
SOLshare provides battery financing, remote battery monitoring, and leasing with pay-as-you-go technology. This allows electric three-wheeler drivers to enjoy extended battery lives, increased cost savings, and higher mileage. And garage owners benefit from remote monitoring, transaction tracking, and shorter charging cycles. These, in turn, increase the income of both the electric three-wheeler drivers and garage owners.