Solar Agro-Processing Power Stations


2017 Fire Awards Finalist

In addition to being selected as a 2017 Fire Awards Finalist, Solar Agro-Processing Stations is also currently under development in the 2016-2017 India Lab cycle.

Stewart Craine, Managing Director, Village Infrastructure Angels

1.2 billion people lack access to electricity and other poverty-alleviating infrastructure, such as clean water for drinking, irrigation and affordable housing.  Grid expansion is not happening fast enough and barely keeps pace with population growth rates.  Pay-as-you-go solar is a recognized solution, but focusses on lighting, mobile phones and TVs. Agro-processing by the off-grid poor is currently either performed by dirty and expensive diesel-fueled 2-5 kW mills, or manually, by hand, often by women.

Community-scale solar-powered agro-processing mills are a clean and efficient solution that frees communities’ time (particularly women’s time) for other, potentially revenue generating, activities.

Barriers Addressed

  • Lack of access to finance in rural off-grid areas
  • Lack of access to infrastructure and dependence on fossil fuels
  • Perceived technology risks of infrastructure.

Centralized community-scale DC power stations of 0.5-5kW are made available to run micro agro-processing mils like rice hullers, corn shellers, flour grinders and more.  Village Infrastructure Angels (VIA) map the location of off-grid households and combine this with additional market data to identify optimum sites for deployment.  VIA then assess villagers’ demand for 3-5 year lease-purchase financing packages for appropriate technologies.  With this demand defined by villagers, VIA pitch the project to impact and clean-tech investors.  Real-time monitoring systems enable rich monitoring data and billing.

BNEF On-Stage Pitch

The India Innovation Lab for Green Finance

The India Lab is helping to explore the early stages of an Indian application, by providing assistance and analytical support to help develop Solar Agro-Processing Power Stations for an Indian market, and to help accelerate implementation.

The India Lab has identified Simpa Networks, an Indian enterprise that sells solar-as-a-service to energy poor households and micro-enterprises that lack access to electricity in rural areas, as the Indian implementing partner for VIA, and is currently working with Simpa to establish a proof of concept via a transaction text for 1-2 mills. If successful, Simpa Networks will then take Solar Agro-Processing Power Stations forward in India, then leading it through a pre-commercial pilot of 100 mills and eventually to the commercialization of the systems in India.