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Dhaka Tribune

SOLshare’s innovative renewable energy program catches international attention

Project gets featured on Al Jazeera 

Update : 15 Jun 2021, 07:04 PM

SOLshare, a Bangladesh-based energy tech company, has developed a renewable energy solution for remote villages of the country where providing electricity from the national grid is still not an easy task.

This initiative of SOLshare to bring solar power to disaster-prone and remote rural areas has already been covered in the international media, namely Al Jazeera, and has been equally appreciated around the world.

Al Jazeera's Sohara Shachi visited SOLshare’s headquarters, and also paid a visit to the company's smart grids to see how the entire technology works, accompanied by SOLshare’s Field Engineer Faruk Hossain, and saw how the SOLbox works from the ground up.

The short film details the birth of SOLshare, the concept of swarm electrification, the installation of the SOLbox, and the positive impacts it has on rural communities across the country.

Also Read - Bangladesh-based SOLshare wins $1.46m in sustainable energy competition

It concludes that on the grassroots level the future of energy has already begun in Bangladesh.

According to the officials of the company, SOLshare connects solar-powered homes to the houses of neighbors who cannot afford a panel themselves.

To prevent the waste of solar energy, SOLshare established a way for people to turn their excess solar electricity into money with zero hassle called SOLbazaar which enabled cyber-physical peer-to-peer (P2P) solar sharing grids.

Sources say that Bangladesh has one of the largest numbers of solar home systems in the world, reaching over 20 million people.

But 30% of the electricity generated is wasted each year, while over six million people in the country have no access to power.

Sebastian Groh, managing director of SOLshare, said that they developed a system to purchase more power on the go whenever they want and they get to invest in more power generation and trade it.

This led to installing the world’s first cyber-physical peer-to-peer (P2P) solar sharing grids, and this of all places in remote areas of Bangladesh, he added.

Aziza Sultana Mukti, head of operations of SOLshare, said that there are a large number of areas which are geographically challenging and the government is trying to reach them through the national grid, but that is not that simple.

Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Sometimes it becomes difficult for the national grid to reach these remote places where there is no electricity, she added.

She also said that due to the natural disaster, there is occasional power outage in many electrified areas. In this case, SOLshare is a good alternative solution.

According to an official, SOLshare introduced SOL bazaar, an IoT-driven trading platform which enabled people to trade the excess solar energy.

Through SOLbazaar one party earns money, while the other party finally gets access to affordable electricity.

The energy sellers can also choose to keep the excess energy to themselves and rather utilize it to run extra appliances like a TV, fridge, or computer, said the SOLshare official.

He also said that SOLbazaar stands on its three pillars - the SOLbox, the SOLapp, and the SOLweb.

SOLbox is a bi-directional DC electricity meter that enables peer-to-peer electricity trading, smart grid management, remote monitoring, mobile money payment and data analytics.

The SOLbox enables the creation of a DC smart grid, integrating with existing hardware, such as a solar home system or battery and connecting this through the SOLbox with other SOLboxes in nearby homes or businesses, said the official.

The SOLapp manages customer portfolios taking user information and payment details into account. It updates accordingly with user activities and energy consumption.

The information from these two pillars then passed onto the third pillar, the SOLweb, where all the information is gathered and analyzed to understand system paradigms and irregularities, she said.

The SOLbox, SOLapp and SOLweb together form the SOLbazaar, enabling one house to smoothly connect to another, eventually connecting to ten houses which then connect to hundreds of households- all possible due to the sharing nature of our trading platform.

Starting its journey in 2015, currently, the SOLshare has more than 5,000 beneficiaries across the country by covering 17 districts.

It employs 70 people, while SOLshare's target is to reach the milestone of 100 grids by the end of this year.

The concept of swarm electrification, the installation of the SOLbox, has a positive impact on rural communities across the country. It can be said that at the grassroots level the future of energy has already begun in Bangladesh.

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