Mitra Ardron is CEO of Lumeter Networks, which is developing a variety of pre-paid electricity meters and cloud accounting services for renewable energy companies to build micro-grids and solar home systems (SHS) and extend service to the Base of the Pyramid. Renewable energy companies currently have trouble servicing this market because of the difficulty of managing small payments and the high degree of theft. Mitra spoke to Arc about how Lumeter has solved this through an ultra-low cost meter, which incorporates innovative tamper protection across micro-grids and facilitates pre-paid capacity for SHS as well.
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The price of small solar systems in East Africa has fallen rapidly over the past decade, but US$70 for a two-light system is still too high for most off-grid households to pay upfront. It would be affordable for many more people with suitable financing to spread the cost, but microfinance isn’t always appropriate or available to fill this gap.
UK technology company Eight19 came up with an innovative way to spread the cost of a solar system: the Indigo pay-as-you-go solar home system that is activated by weekly scratchcard payments. The team spun out Azuri Technologies in August 2012 to promote Indigo in emerging markets.