Modular Minigrid Topology
Our founder designed an innovative modular minigrid topology that allowed for distributed generation and storage, as well as ease of hybridization with other AC power sources. Designed for rural communities where the load can increase in small amounts by additions of schools, clinics, and other public facilities.
The other innovation is by providing the design for the solar panels on the top of the utility distribution poles. This allows for zero additional land requirements for the solar panel installations. Additional benefits include better sense of ownership from the households near each pole so they can watch and report any tampering or physical damage.
A pilot project was funded by Lundin Foundation at a village near the city of Jayapura in the Papua province of Indonesia. This pilot project included the implementation of smart meters and a mobile payment system. Another innovation is in the business model made possible by the smart meter programming. Each household are given a choice to purchase packages of energy (lasting from 7 days to 30 days) or by purchasing per kWh. Productive use of energy appliances such as refrigerators, mills, grinders, and others are also available to the community.
Operational since 2015, the innovative minigrid design invented by our founder and implemented by our team members are still technically operational today. The same design has been used in a US$9 million grant project (from Millenium Challenge Account Indonesia) to implement almost 500kWp in several villages throughout the island of Sumba in Indonesia.
We continue to improve on this design and are ready to look for funding to implement a version that is much more advanced than the original and eliminates many of the flaws and downfalls.
Online Survey Platform
Starting in 2013 with inspections of 100 solar PV sites in remote areas throughout Indonesia, our team members have since collected data, visited and stayed in about 500 remote villages. Almost 60 expert-months have been spent staying with the communities (not counting travel time). This experience taught us that there needs to be a better tool to collect the data, for objective technical data, subjective observations and face to face interaction results.
We have developed an online survey platform based on our experiences. This include the capability of data entry even when there is no signal and the system will save the data to be synchronized to the cloud when there is signal.
In 2017 we partnered with Dendrite Consulting to find survey projects utilizing the platform. The collaboration yielded the Matakami name for the joint effort. Between the online survey platform, our team's experiences with the rural communities, and Dendrite's network we are able to connect with several sectors. Potential projects utilizing the Matakami being developed are with the banking industry wanting to reach rural communities, telecommunication sector, and rural electrification projects.
Crowdsourcing Rural Information
Knowing what we know about the conditions in the rural area, we have designed a mobile application to crowdsource the information. Things such as low voltage distribution lines, even medium voltage distribution lines are still difficult to obtain. Unelectrified households are also seldom recorded accurately. Most villages recorded as electrified often have a significant portion of the households still unelectrified. The opposite is also true, privately owned power plants (often diesel/gasoline generators) are not recorded. Our application allows the users to record these things including other relevant rural information for growth such as productive use of energy, location of community markets, and others.
This innovative approach allows us to gather information from the users without spending significant resources to visit the communities. A lot of the planning work can be done remotely before our team is needed to visit the communities.
Community Funding for Sustainable Innovations
The idea is to have the women in a community, or neighborhood to meet together on a regular interval and contribute to a community account. This money is then used by one of the members of the group to purchase a product or service that supports sustainable development or productive use. Each month the collected money is given to a different member of the group for this purpose. Each group is limited to no more than 10 members and the meeting is conducted on a monthly basis.
To scale up this idea, an application will be designed to expand the reach of the group. With the app, group members are no longer limited geographically but can be based on similar needs or interests. As an example, a water filter group can be created for those needed water filters. The monthly contributions are calculated so that each month one of the members can receive the money and it is enough to purchase the same water filter. This will start scaling up not only the number of groups, but also enable group buying power for certain sustainable products.
With time, as the groups grow in size and number, banks and micro financing institutions can be involved to fund additional products. The end result is that there is a platform for the community to enable a community savings account to purchase sustainable innovations needed.
Applied to residential solar PV projects, this idea can work even better by creating a platform for the banks to provide safe investment products. Each group of 10 people interested in having a rooftop solar PV system will be given a credit card by the bank with increasing limits the equivalent to the amount of money they are putting into the community fund. The fund will be used each month to pay for one member's rooftop solar PV system.