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SOLshare

SOLshare created the world's first solar peer-to-peer energy exchange platform allowing users to trade electricity in real time in remote Bangladesh.

Team Lead

Salma Islam

Solution Overview

Solution Name:

SOLshare

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One-line solution summary:

SOLshare created the world’s first solar P2P energy exchange platform allowing users to earn a direct income from the sun.

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Pitch your solution.

SOLshare created a revolutionary new approach to bring affordable solar electricity to the energy poor in remote, rural off-grid communities of Bangladesh. Building upon the success of an installation base of five million solar home systems, that generate an excess amount of energy worth US$ 1 billion per year that cannot be stored, we are pioneering a micro-energy transition model 3.0, by interconnecting solar home systems into smart peer-to-peer micro-grids, monetizing (excess) solar energy along the value chain with mobile money in real time and empowering rural communities to earn a direct income from the sun. SOLshare is propelling the systemic change of how people use and move electrons around the globe in the spirit of the new energy world fueled by the 5 D's: Decarbonization, Decentralization, Democratization, Disruption & Digitization. SOLshare's solutions could potentially change the face of utilities globally, and leapfrogs rural communities today.

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Film your elevator pitch.

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What specific problem are you solving?

According to the World Bank, off-grid solar products currently service over 360 million people globally. However, while this number seems significant, the current reach is estimated to only be 17% of the market potential. Off-grid solar products, particularly solar home systems (“SHS”), serve an important role in the frontier markets by empowering the ‘next billion’, who currently lack electricity or live with unreliable or insufficient electricity service. In so doing, SHS’ complement grid-based power distribution in frontier economies, by serving as a platform for: a) effective energy transition (from fossil fuels to renewables), b) affordable, reliable and scalable rural electricity supply, and c) carbon neutrality.  

Bangladesh is currently the global market leader in SHS installations, which serve over 5 million households and 25 million people. Despite this overwhelming success, widespread energy poverty continues to plague the nation, where nearly 60 million people still lack access/reliable access to electricity, due to inadequate distribution networks. To address this gap, SOLshare created the world’s first peer-to-peer energy exchange network of rural households and small businesses with rooftop solar home systems, which enabled a more efficient distribution of electricity across the rural communities.

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What is your solution?

Our innovative model (commonly referred to as the ‘prosumer’ model), allows certain households to become both a producer and a consumer of electricity generated by their SHS installations. In summary, one household can sell excess power into the microgrid network, where neighboring households or businesses can buy it in small increments using mobile credits. If these groups of interconnected, peer-to-peer microgrids were to connect with Bangladesh’s national electricity grid, it would pave the way for a new global standard for electricity distribution. To date, SOLshare’s peer-to-peer energy exchange platform, SOLbazaar, has connected over 600 households and microbusinesses into 30 micro grids (28 in Bangladesh and 2 in Assam, India).

SOLshare’s solution, the SOLbazaar (energy exchange platform) is comprised of the SOLgrid (a peer-to-peer solar micro-grid), that interconnects households and microbusinesses with and without solar home systems; the SOLbox (a smart bi-directional meter), the point of interconnection between users allowing them to buy and sell energy; the SOLapp (android app where each user is registered) allowing us to design our grids through GPS locations; and the SOLweb, (data infrastructure at our backend) where we can see the energy consumption and exchange data in real time.

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Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?

By providing a market-based solution to participants in the peer-to-peer microgrid, there are financial incentives to make a more efficient use of the energy resources. Targeting the remote population of the river islands of Bangladesh, where many rely on fossil fuels for limited economic and subsistence activities, SOLshare provides affordable access to clean
decentralized energy, substituting the traditional local sources of energy (fuelwood, diesel generators, kerosene) and improves the existing energy infrastructure (SHS) through retrofitting with SOLshare's technology. Though this is not cheaper than the national grid electricity, which is highly subsidized, it is cheaper than the alternative and reliable.

Overview of Impacts:

• P2P energy trading provides nearly 700 households, access over to 75 MWh of additional energy, valued at USD 75,923 

• Over 95 microbusiness, including 11 women, experience additional income valued at USD 6,315 through access to reliable energy 

• Selling excess energy of over 25 MWh customers earned additional income worth approximately USD 16,177 (53.44% of those living on $5/day earn an additional income selling excess energy) 

• P2P trading unlocks over 75 MWh reducing 50,000 kgCO2e, valued at approximately USD 6,910 

• Our SROI, calculated by Asia IIX Global at USD 4.85 for every dollar invested.

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Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Enable small and new businesses, especially in untapped communities, to prosper and create good jobs through access to capital, networks, and technology
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Explain how the problem, your solution, and your solution’s target population relate to the Challenge and your selected dimension.

SOLshare aims to address the energy trilemma through its work (energy security, energy equity and environmental sustainability). Energy security: Constantly developing our technology stack through end user feedback to ensure a reliable supply of energy. This includes operations, maintenance and having a customer hotline. Energy equity: We are ensuring affordable access to those in the remotest locations, though in the future, through a
community PPA we hope to make our solution even more affordable for our users. Environmental sustainability: We focus on providing clean solar energy which decreases carbon emissions as the number of grids and households increases.

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In what city, town, or region is your solution team headquartered?

Dhaka, Bangladesh
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What is your solution’s stage of development?

Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth
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Who is the primary delegate for your solution?

Dr. Sebastian Groh, CEO and Co-Founder of SOLshare

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More About Your Solution

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.solshare.solboxbanla.app&hl=en

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If you have additional video content that explains your solution, provide a YouTube or Vimeo link here:

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Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new technology
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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

On the national scale and international there is no solution that uniquely does exactly what SOLshare does, which is allows our end users to earn a direct income from the sun by selling the excess power on their SHS and allowing them to buy more energy when they need it all within a solar P2P microgrid. Our innovation, the SOLbox (point of interconnection within the P2P network, IOT device and smart bi-directional meter) which is integrated with mobile money allows our users to see their energy consumption in the value of currency and decide how they want to use energy.

SOLshare does not have competitors in the local market but on a global scale, there are a few companies doing related work such as Power Ledger, Lo3, Okra, Power-Blox, or Rural Spark. SOLshare remains the only solution that covers all of the following: the ownership is decentralized, the solution is mobile money integrated, P2P enabled microgrid with and IOT device. Okra is the only company in the Global South that can share electricity between houses, but not trade. Power Ledger and LO3's solutions are not suitable for energy-poor communities. The others do not have P2P capabilities.

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Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

A typical SOLshare peer-to-peer microgrid or SOLgrid for short, consists of the following components: 

1. SOLbox: a bi-directional DC (direct current) smart electricity meter that enables peer-to-peer interconnection of SHSs, constructing a local smart micro grid. This smart grid acts like a localised energy market, enabling the trade of energy with appropriate metering. Thereby, the SOLbox essentially allows a certain SHS to sell any unused excess capacity to its neighbouring SHS.

2. SOLgrid ICT infrastructure: SOLshare has designed its own ICT infrastructure that includes a WiFi router to communicate with each SOLbox installed within the SOLgrid.

3. SOLgrid Mobile Application: The SOLapp is an Android based mobile application through which all customers are registered by the local operator of the SOLgrid. 

4. SOLgrid Web Application: The SOLshare Web Application (SOLweb) offers all relevant information and data about a SOLgrid to management staff and grid operators in order to track grid performance and payment activities. Furthermore, the web application provides live access to collected data and summarises energy usage patterns for a whole grid as well as single customers into relevant performance indicators. 

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Provide evidence that this technology works.

To date, SOLshare’s peer-to-peer energy exchange platform, SOLbazaar, has connected nearly 500 households into 30 micro grids (28 in Bangladesh and 2 in India to date), which have consumed approximately 75 MWh and sold 25 MWh of electricity. However, this is merely scratching the surface, when compared to its $1 billion market opportunity (amount of excess energy only). By connecting all six million households with solar home systems across Bangladesh, with the 60 million people who lack access to electricity, SOLshare can create a series of interconnected microgrids that generate up to 250MW (~1.5% of Bangladesh’s total installed power capacity as of December 2019) and 2,400 MWh of battery storage. More importantly, by setting and controlling the transaction price within this microgrid system, SOLshare would establish a strong competitive advantage against new market entrants.  

By increasing electricity access to the base of the pyramid, SOLshare acts as a pivotal enabler of the Government of Bangladesh’s (GoB) core strategic objectives, as outlined in its ‘Vision 2021’ plan. In so doing, the Company’s work generates positive impact on overall literacy rates, female employment and empowerment, rural SME growth, decreased carbon emissions, increased health outcomes and increased GDP per capita. 

Having established a product-market fit in Bangladesh, SOLshare is looking to expand to other developing countries with similar market dynamics to those of Bangladesh.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=658S6mGt3cI
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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence / Machine Learning
  • Internet of Things
  • Software and Mobile Applications
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What is your theory of change?

SOLshare’s Theory of Change:

31563_TOC_SOLshare_1440x810.png
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Select the key characteristics of your target population.

  • Rural
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Refugees & Internally Displaced Persons
  • Minorities & Previously Excluded Populations
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 5. Gender Equality
  • 7. Affordable and Clean Energy
  • 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13. Climate Action
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Bangladesh
  • India
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Bangladesh
  • India
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How many people does your solution currently serve? How many will it serve in one year? In five years?

Currently SOLshare's solar p2p microgrids serve over 3,000 people. Over the next year SOLshare will be installing another 100 microgrids through which we plan to benefit another 15,000 people will be served. In 5 years SOLshare aims to bring this number to 100,000 people. 

SOLshare combines a unique set of capabilities for organizations willing to get in early and benefit from those new opportunities in the new energy world fueled by the 5 D’s: Decentralization, Decarbonization, Digitization, Democratization & Disruption. There is a high potential and nearly untapped billion $ market of distributed energy services in P2P networks using renewable energy. Once the groups of interconnected, peer-to-peer microgrids are being connected with Bangladesh’s national electricity grid, it will pave the way for a new global standard for electricity distribution. We strongly believe that the grids we are building in Bangladesh are the future of utilities globally. We'll shortly be introducing Community Power Purchase Agreements as a viable option towards a resilient and sustainable recovery of C-19, the development of national utilities whilst providing decentralized renewable energy prosumers with a financial incentive for electricity usage and sharing at the BoP. Imagine an SHS owner being able to sell electricity to the grid at multiple times higher tariff than she buys from the grid, turning her into a net-importer and net-gainer of electricity. All this will be possible through the Point of Common Coupling (PCC), a single node combining groups of SHS with the national grid.

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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

  • Energy Access to 100,000 beneficiaries: Over the next five years our the target is to reach 100,000 people with access to affordable clean energy. 
  • Holistic Grids: We also hope to have holistic grids which provide EV charging, billable Wi-Fi and many other facilities. 
  • Expansion in Agriculture: SOLshare is also looking to expand within the agricultural sector, this includes solar irrigation/solar water pumps for agricultural communities. 
  • Increase women's entrepreneurship in agriculture: The agro-processing sector is dominated by women, but they earn half the amount a man does for the same amount of work. With access to solar powered agro-processing equipment through micro-finance schemes (done through B2B partners with micro-finance licenses), women would be able to accomplish more in a short amount of time empowering them both socially and economically. 
  • Increase awareness through community engagement: SOLshare's work has always been directly with local communities as no grid is possible without community consent and involvement. As we continue we hope to raise awareness on among remote rural communities on the benefits and ways in which their livelihoods could change through access to energy and all our services. Through awareness raising SOLshare hopes to reach at least a million people.   
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What barriers currently exist for you to accomplish your goals in the next year and in the next five years?

  • Financial: This is our biggest challenge. Being a startup investments and funds are our bread and butter upon which our survival is dependent for the next few years until we hit breakeven. 
  • Technical: Unless SOLshare can keep up with ever advancing and developing technology our products will become dead in the water. It is imperative that we keep improving.  
  • Market Barriers: Competition from a major player could have a huge impact on work. Especially since we are a startup. A big financial player could change the game.  
  • Legal: SOLshare currently operates in an unregulated sandbox which is easy now, but it will become difficult if the situation changes.
  • Cultural: As the technology is new and unknown, cultural acceptance is difficult for most communities. 
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How do you plan to overcome these barriers?

  • Financial: SOLshare will continue fundraising through different streams is on the verge of holding it's series B round of investments through which we hope to raise $2.75 million this time which would go a long way in helping us achieve our goals. 
  • Technical: With constantly changing and developing technology, SOLshare also has to keep up in updating and upgrading its technology. This is based on constant data collection and analysis at our backend. 
  • Market Barriers: Right now we are operating without competition as our current competitors operate in different countries and no one has a product exactly like ours and nor have they expanded to the same extent as SOLshare. This is why we are constantly doing our best to improve so that when the time arises SOLshare will not face these issues and will already have an establish customer base. 
  • Legal: SOLshare is currently in the process of working with the government in moving forward especially when grid integration comes into play. This way we can stay ahead and be prepared for changes that could happen.
  • Cultural: This is a matter that SOLshare has been able to overcome through community engagement and ensuring local stakeholders are involved and aware of what the technology does and is capable of.
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About Your Team

What type of organization is your solution team?

For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
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How many people work on your solution team?

Total number of people working at SOLshare at this moment is 67.

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How many years have you worked on your solution?

5

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Why are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

SOLshare is the best organization to deliver this solution because of the following:

  • Our R&D is in-house and we are constantly in the process of developing and improving our product to provide the best possible service to our customers. Yet, we are mature enough to realize that for the last 10-15% of product maturity, we had to seek out support from very experienced product developers and designers as an outsourcing/ strategic collaboration activity. Collaborating with the best around the globe, as well as SOLshare as a brand by now, has led to turned SOLshare into a an extremely sought after workplace in the city. This, in turn, allowed us to continuously improve our team.
  • With three PhDs in electrical engineering, IoT and development economics in our extended founding team we have a very strong foundation of all our work.
  • SOLshare has attracted the interest and trust of a subset of the world's largest energy utilities (joint under the Free Electrons program which SOLshare won), counting two of them as their investors and Board members.
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What organizations do you currently partner with, if any? How are you working with them?

  • Grameen Shakti (GS): under the umbrella of Nobel Laureate, Professor Yunus's Grameen Bank, Grameen Shakti installed 1.8 million solar home systems across Bangladesh. Having won many accolades and awards for their work, they were the right partner as they had the necessary field presence and access needed to implement our solution.
  • Chars Development Research Center (CDRC): is a rural development center particularly dedicated to improving the livelihoods of the poor and extreme poor char dwellers. CDRC is operated under the administrative umbrella of the Rural Development Academy (RDA). It inherited unique competency within the areas of poverty reduction, livelihood improvement and food security, empowering women, green technology generation and overall rural development from RDA, which has been serving the rural development sector for the last four decades as a national academy. CDRC's work and experience in Char areas made them an excellent partner for SOLshare to work with.
  • Telefonica's Alpha Energy: To improve our data analytics, we engaged with Alpha.
  •  GIZ: To support our development of solar rickshaw charging stations (1.5M electric rickshaws in Bangladesh's remote areas)
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Your Business Model & Funding

What is your business model?

SOLshare offers its P2P smart microgrid platform in a B2B business model to solar home system distributors, among others. The SOLgrid platform consists of software and hardware products, offered in a simple service/sales model. The distributors act as the local grid operators for each of the installed microgrids and provide grid related products and maintenance services towards the end-user.

SOLshare counts on three different revenue streams: 

1. Hardware: sales revenue + margin on the SOLbox (smart meter device) and communications technology (IoT device);

2. Software as a service towards our B2B customers for remote grid management; 

3. The trading fee of every kWh of energy traded among the end-users.

The long term emphasis is on the trading fee which acts similar to an AirBnB-like model.

We receive our revenues from our B2B customers (revenue flow 1) + 2)), as well as directly from the beneficiaries (revenue flow 3) which is split 50:50 with our B2B partners in order to keep the partnership fully aligned.

SOLshare operates in the energy access market for rural off-grid communities. The people we serve are those suffering from energy poverty. Being such an important commodity, we know that energy can make a vast difference in a people’s lives. SOLshare follows a B2B model with partners that have strong field presence and knowledge of remote locations with existing solar home systems (SHS). Our customers have installed more than 60% of the current installation base of nearly 6 million SHS. 

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Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, or to other organizations?

Organizations (B2B)
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What is your path to financial sustainability?

Over the past two years the quarterly volume of electricity purchased per customer has grown 400%. The number energy active households has doubled while the average energy value purchased by customers has increased by 250%.

Our financial projections predict a revenue growth with a 7-yr CAGR of 83% based on two of our revenue streams. Our SOLbazaar (energy trading platform) will drive 42% of growth through increased trade volume and 38% through increased SOLbox sales. This is based on steady prosumer growth and retention and a strong increase in energy trading volume from increased number of grid connections, base electricity price reduction and modest trading fee increase. The SOLclock will drive 22% of growth through an increase in B2B customers and sales unit growth, which in turn is driven by product mix diversification (e.g. the different electrical appliances that SOLclock can be installed into, such as TVs, refrigerators, and air conditioners). The increase in sustainable revenue sources, like the SOLbazaar and SOLclock, will reduce the current reliance on project-based income to subsidize R&D.

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Partnership & Prize Funding Opportunities

Why are you applying to Solve?

This is excellent opportunity for SOLshare to become a part of the SOLVE community and grow our network of peers. SOLshare has thrived on collaborating with other organizations. Through our innovative work we have already achieved many accolades and awards and each time we have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other like-minded interesting and innovative organizations. SOLVE provides another opportunity as well as a responsibility. If SOLshare is selected we will have the finances necessary to begin the road to reach our 5 year goals and embark at full speed on our journey accelerate innovation for a better environment in Bangladesh. 

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In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Business model
  • Solution technology
  • Funding and revenue model
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What organizations would you like to partner with, and how would you like to partner with them?

SOLshare is always looking to collaborate with other organizations. 

  • Organizations interested in financing our work and expand our micro-grids
  • Organizations interested in helping further develop our technology & solution -especially IT backbone
  • Organizations interested in doing collaborations such as research and technology where SOLshare plays the technology implementer
  • Organizations with new ideas for implementation of our solution
  • Organization interested in implementing our solution in new areas.
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Solution Team

  • Ms. Salma Islam Project Manager, ME SOLshare Ltd.
 
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