Bangladeshi company ME SOLshare Ltd, along with its partners Upokulio Biddutayan O Mohila Unnayan Samity (UBOMUS), Centre for Energy Research at United International University, Infrastructure Development Company Ltd (IDCOL) and MicroEnergy International, was honoured with the Momentum for Change Award on Wednesday night.
The award was given during a ceremony with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the Conference of Parties 22 (COP22), the climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco.
The delegates from Bangladesh who accepted the award were Enamul Karim Pavel, head of renewable energy at IDCOL, Nasir Uddin, executive director of UBOMUS, Shahriar Ahmed Chowdhury, director of the Centre for Energy Reseach, Noara Kebir, managing director of MicroEnergy International, Aziza Sultana Mukti, head of operations at ME SOLshare, and Sebastian Groh, managing director of ME SOLshare.
Energy is an essential tool for eradicating poverty and driving the country towards development. Access to energy means light in homes for children to study, a possibility to charge your phone, ways to harness economic opportunities and advancement. Without energy, health clinics cannot store vaccines; entrepreneurs are left in the dark and with no power to run any machinery. Globally, 1.1 billion and about 70 million people in Bangladesh lack such access to electricity.
Realising the importance of energy, SOLshare and its partners have successfully piloted the world’s first ICT-enabled peer-to-peer electricity trading network for rural households with and without solar home systems in Shariatpur, Bangladesh. The young Bangladeshi company combines solar home systems and centralised mini-grids to enable more rural households to access renewable electricity at a lower cost.
Each SOLshare meter enables the user to buy and sell renewable electricity with neighboring households, businesses and rural industries. People in rural Bangladesh are now earning additional income by selling their surplus electricity and at the same time, new users have gained access to electricity for the first time in their life – without any large, centralised grid.
The ability of households to earn an income from their solar systems opens up innovative business possibilities. For instance, households could reinvest their profits from solar energy trading to upgrade their solar technology to generate even more electricity and thus profit. Overnight, simple solar users are turned into smart entrepreneurs earning money real-time once their solar systems start producing a surplus of solar electricity. This surplus can easily be directly credited to their mobile money accounts.
For its operation model, SOLshare has long been hailed as the “Uber” of the off-grid world. The SOLshare electricity trading network reduces greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation. It replaces unsustainable energy sources by increasing access to renewable energy and connecting un-electrified users to solar.
It is a revealing truth for many participants at the COP22 discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement that Bangladesh, one of the countries most affected by climate change, has found a recipe of how to turn low-income people into true change makers. It is encouraging in times of insecurities in light of the new US president-elect that a climate revolution has long been started in Bangladesh.
This is the company's Momentum for Change from the bottom-up, led by IDCOL’s globally heralded solar home system programme which has already brought clean energy to millions of houses. The whole world can learn from this.