More than 75% of East Africans do not have access to the electric grid. Grid expansion is slow and where the grid does exist, the connection fee of hundreds of US dollars is prohibitively expensive for most residents. Off-grid residents who need to power appliances operate noisy and polluting diesel generators that have high fuel and maintenance costs. Small solar lanterns and home systems can provide lighting to a vast network of rural customers, but have limited functionality.
PowerGen Renewable Energy, founded in 2011, is a premier renewable energy design and installation firm in the region. In 2013, PowerGen began to address the problem of rural energy access by installing and operating alternating current (AC) solar micro-grids in off-grid communities in East Africa. Micro-grids can be deployed quickly, offer a low connection fee for customers, have more functionality than solar lanterns (it is “real” AC power), and can be expanded to supply more energy as customer demand grows. From a business perspective, micro-grids offer a new way of thinking about rural electrification: rapidly deployable private infrastructure. To date, PowerGen has installed 18 micro-grids, providing electricity to over 550 homes and businesses, benefiting over 23,000 people.
Team: Sam Slaughter, Co-Founder and Managing Director; Alistair Smith, Co-Founder and Director of Operations; Mark Wopicho, Co-Founder and Director of Sales; Eve Meyer, Director of Business Development
Press & Media: Kiva.org