Airtel green micropower — rural India doesn’t need the grid

According to Justin Guay

That’s because when people’s phones are charged they use them more, and when they use them more the mobile phone companies make more money — significantly more money. This has created a dynamic that turns the traditional view of delivering energy access on its head. Instead of seeing it as an ‘expensive development project’ it is increasingly becoming a lucrative business proposition.

It just so happens that taking advantage of this proposition solves another vexing problem for mobile phone providers — costly diesel. By switching out the expensive diesel gen sets that power their off-grid “base stations” – radio towers that convert electricity into radio waves — the companies save money. In India alone there are an estimated 400,000 towers over 150,000 of which don’t have reliable access to the grid.

This is where Community Power comes in. These base stations act as anchor clients for small scale energy projects by committing to the purchase of a majority of the power supply generated by a company like OMC. With this guaranteed revenue stream in hand, OMC can then sell their excess power generation to local communities via mini-grids, transportable batteries, or by directly charging applications (like phones) on site. This helps the mobile phone companies keep their customers phones charged, it reduces their monthly power bills, and it electrify’s rural communities — this is community power.

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