In recent years, there has been a number of solutions available for impoverished countries to receive electricity. Companies are releasing affordable solar-powered boxes that can generate energy for standard appliances. One product that is particularly unique is the Off Grid Box from an Italian startup, who is looking to make it on the large scale and expand their user reach.
Measuring at six feet by six feet, it’s topped off with a solar array that does more than just generate energy for use. It also has the ability to clean and filter water for general use. Providing water and electricity in a simple, automated setup would be ideal for those dealing with scarce resources.
Six specific parts make up the product. Along with the aforementioned array, there’s an integrated inverter that collects the sun’s energy and transfers it into usable electricity and places it in the included battery pack. It can also collect water and stores it in a tank. When it’s taken out, it has to go through a filtration system. Other cool features include remote monitoring with a mobile device, has a swappable battery, and features a 10-year warranty.
However, unlike similar products, this isn’t in the affordable range for every intended user. According to Fast Company, there are 28 of them that have been sold to “individuals and organizations...at $15,000 and up.” Considering the product has been out for three years, it hasn’t seen enough growth to make it a major player. Emiliano Cecchini, who founded the company, is looking toward a different business model in order to expand their reach.
“We’re looking for the next system to scale. The idea came three years ago and, yeah, we’re kind of struggling to make it bigger. Back in Italy, it’s not easy to find the right financing strategy, mentors, and accelerator programs.”
Instead, they’ll be adopting a process similar to Fenix International’s ReadyPay Solar Power. First, they’ll be installing Off Grid Boxes in remote locations. For a much more affordable price, local residents would be able to use the boxes and pay in small amounts over time. These people will pay just pennies a day to keep using the services.
How will this be affordable when they were originally sold for at least $15,000 each? 18 villages in Rwanda will be seeing the new Off Grid Boxes with help from the local government and partnering with rural electrification contractors. They’ll be looking for investments and partnerships after doing the trial run in Rwanda.
Ideally, this will fix two issues. First, Off Grid Boxes will be more efficient as they can help many more people in these locations. More people pitch in with a cheap pay-as-you-go program, the units will be paid off faster. Then, with more results in helping out local residents that are struggling to get electricity and clean water, more investors chip in, and the company will have the financial backing it needs to expand their reach to its full potential.