Boond Engineering and Development, a social enterprise company, has announced plans to install 4,000 solar microgrids in India to serve one million people in rural areas by 2022.
The northern India company is installing the solar microgrids as part of the Business Call to Action (BCtA), a global initiative launched by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to encourage private sector efforts to help developing regions.
Boond uses pre-paid, pay-as-per-use metering technology with the goal of providing rural households with access to clean energy 24 hours a day.
Households are able to access the microgrid energy services for anywhere between $2-4 per month, according to Rustam Sengupta, Boond CEO.
“With solar microgrids, we are able to reach customers who lack access to financing and who previously could not afford to invest in decentralized solar home systems,” he said. “We are committed to expand this initiative across India and beyond.”
To improve its responsiveness to customers, the company is building an online platform to capture and analyze data transmited from its microgrids.
Founded in 2010, Boond has provided clean energy to more than 40,000 households along with schools, banks, health clinics and small businesses. So far, the company has focused on the State of Uttar Pradesh, where close to 80 percent of rural households lack access to the electricity grid.
With plans to install 50 microgrids in 2016 alone, the company forecasts 2016 revenue of $350,000 from solar microgrids, rising to $1 million in 2017. By 2022, Boond hopes to reach one million rural people in India and is also exploring market potential in South Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Boond works with strategic partners such as financial institutions to extend financing to rural entrepreneurs and village institutions who cannot afford the up-front costs.
“Boond’s pre-paid technology and partnerships for financing are bringing reliable solar energy to rural communities that have never before had access to electricity,” said Paula Pelaez, program manager of the BCtA. “Beyond just lighting, this scalable initiative has the potential to transform people’s livelihoods and children’s education – fostering connectivity and sustainable growth.”
Close to one third of all individuals without access to electricity – 350 million people – reside in India alone; 400 million suffer from acute shortages and unreliable electricity supply. As of 2011, only one million households in India used solar power as their primary source of lighting, according to BCtA.
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