Over a billion people around the world do not have access to electricity from a large grid. Mostly they live in remote areas that are too far away from conventional electricity grids, so they don’t have enough electricity for things that citizens in developed countries take for granted.
What would it be like if you had to walk for several days just to charge your mobile phone? What if you never had any Internet access? If you wanted to be an entrepreneur living in such conditions, it would be very difficult.
SOLARKIOSK GmbH is a Berlin-based company that wants to help millions of people living in places like Africa to have much better access to electricity. It makes small, portable, solar-powered kiosks that also have a mobile router with wi-fi. One kiosk can charge about 220 cell phones each day. It can simultaneously charge laptops and other devices while running a refrigerator that can preserve important medicines. One of the company’s solar kiosks can generate enough power to operate a cell tower, so many more people can communicate using cell phones.
The roof of each solar kiosk is covered with PV panels and the framework is made from light, rugged materials designed to endure difficult conditions.
A number of solar kiosks can be connected to generate enough electricity that they could function as a small power company for a community. So, there is a modularity for the kiosks in that they can be grouped. This potential is important because a single kiosk alone would have an impact, but one that is limited by the amount of electricity its panels could produce. Linking kiosks together allows more socially beneficial impact to occur.
It will be fascinating to see what happens when the economic impact of these solar kiosks can be studied and measured. Electronic communication, whether on mobile devices or via the Internet, is a vital part of business today, so adding it to places where it does not exist must be beneficial.
By the end of 2014, about 45 units had been deployed.