The more people who get energy from clean sources like solar and wind, the better. That's an unambiguous truism at this point. Yet two primary factors prevent more folks from plugging into renewable power: Cost and access. Most people have neither a) the option to plug into a big, centralized wind farm or solar array, nor b) the financial resources to pay the upfront costs for distributed projects like rooftop solar.
Which is why it's eminently important not just to continue investing in renewable technology to bring costs down, but to experiment with pricing systems that could make clean power far more affordable. And this is precisely what Simpa Networks is trying to do in the developing world -- by replicating the 'cell phone' pricing model with solar panels, the company can offer consumers a permanent source of power at unusually affordable rates.
Paul Needham, the co-founder and president of Simpa Networks and a Poptech Social Innovation Fellow, thinks that his company's pricing model will make solar power affordable for some of the most disadvantaged people in the world. I sat down with Needham at this year's Poptech conference, and he explained how Simpa is helping make solar the best -- and cheapest -- option. Even for folks who've never used electricity before. Watch:
Simpa's work is especially important because the hundreds of millions of people in the developing world who live without any power at all today will soon be vying for it. And if tomorrow's energy consumers of China, India, Brazil, and beyond plug into dirty power like coal, then you can kiss a stable global climate system goodbye. So finding new clean energy delivery models that new electricity buyers can afford is of the utmost importance -- more than a few eyes will be on Simpa as it expands operations across India.