SOLshare technicians fitting solar panels. Courtesy
Bangladesh-based SOLshare has already helped reduce 75,000 kilograms of carbon emission by the end of 2020 through its solar grids and wants to double that by the end of 2022
As we enter a crucial decade for the restoration of the earth, a pressing matter we have in our hands is revolutionizing the norm of using fossil fuels like coal and gas for the generation of electricity, a procedure which constantly produces and adds on to the existing air, water, and land pollution. Solar energy from the sun provides us with the solution to this problem.
When electricity is produced from solar panels, no greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere and with the sun producing more energy than we can ever consume, electricity generation from solar power stands out as the single most realistic and essential energy source in the quest to clean energy production.
To get insights on the renewable energy scenario and the private sector’s contributions to the energy revolution in Bangladesh, we reached out to SOLshare to comprehend their work and vision. SOLshare is a company in Bangladesh that has adopted and brought about a revolution in how we perceive and utilize solar power.
The company was started by Dr Sebastian Groh, who visited Bangladesh as a part of his PhD research on the role of energy in development processes. On his initial visit to Bangladesh, he was astounded by the existing solar home system program in Bangladesh but one alarming issue he observed was that the excess energy produced is wasted.
When the sun is at its peak, it keeps producing massive amounts of energy but the batteries which are already fully charged cannot store the excess energy absorbed by the solar panel. It became clear to Dr Groh and his colleagues that energy usage flexibility and profitability provide the much-needed path to sustainable development. Thus, SOLshare’s journey began in the Shariatpur district of Bangladesh.
“The company was started by Dr Sebastian Groh, who visited Bangladesh as a part of his PhD research on the role of energy in development processes”
To address the issue of energy wastage, which Groh estimated to be worth up to a billion dollars per year, SOLshare initiated a system for people to turn their excess solar electricity into tangible profit in the form of mobile money.
SOLshare started the SOLbazaar, an IoT (Internet of Things) driven platform which is a dynamic energy marketplace where Solar Home System (SHS) users can sell their excess energy to people who do not use SHS or cannot afford it. This is an appealing prospect for the common people as sellers can make money off it and people who cannot afford SHS, get access to affordable electricity.
The SOLbazaar is a game-changer for rural Bangladesh. Through this platform, people of rural Bangladesh, people who are from remote areas and the lowest echelons of the society are getting increasing and affordable access to renewable energy. There are already over 60 solar grids from SOLshare installed throughout the country, with over 6,000 people benefitting from solar energy.
This is 6,000 people switching to a far superior and sustainable method of electricity generation which puts a massive and much needed dent on the emission of greenhouse gases. The company through its solar grids has already helped reduce 75,000 kilograms of carbon emission by the end of 2020 and wants to double that by the end of 2022.
Moreover, as the solar power grids are decentralized, it makes them far more resilient to natural disasters. This ensures rural people getting access to electricity even in the face of adversities such as heavy rainfall, flooding, etc.
The SOLbazaar is compartmentalized into 3 crucial aspects — the SOLbox, SOLapp, and SOLweb. The SOLbox is a bi-directional DC electricity meter that allows peer-to-peer electricity trading, smart grid management, remote monitoring, mobile money payment, and data analytics.
“To address the issue of energy wastage, which Groh estimated to be worth up to a billion dollars per year, SOLshare initiated a system for people to turn their excess solar electricity into tangible profit in the form of mobile money”
Whereas, the SOLapp manages customer portfolios and the SOLweb is where all the information is collected, assembled, and analyzed to comprehend system patterns and abnormalities. These aspects team up to help connect multiple households to smoothen the process of energy sharing.
SOLshare is a pioneer of renewable energy-based peer-to-peer trading platforms and is the first of its kind in the world. The company has revolutionized the energy consumption scene in rural Bangladesh and continues to look forward to further scope for innovation and clean energy consumption.
SOLshare will be piloting Point of Common Coupling (PCC) this year which will further enhance the company’s quest to drive forward renewable energy. The company aims to have more than 100 solar grids throughout the country by the end of 2021, with more than 10,000 people benefitting from it.
SOLshare was initiated with the vision to provide customers from even the lowest echelon of the society with an affordable, reliable, and most importantly clean source of electricity. So far, the company has been successful in providing just that and are looking forward to charging ahead with its revolutionary methods as it firmly believes that the future of energy is decentralized, decarbonized, democratized, digitized, and disruptive.
The information provided in this article is collected from an interview conducted by the author with SOLshare’s Salma Islam, who is the Head of Projects, Fundraising & Communications.
Magnus Mayeen Ahmed is a Communications Officer at the International Centre for Climate Change and Development.