Jun 10, 2016
Congratulations on making the semi-finals!
These are good suggestions. I am just not sure how practical they are.
How can the MIT community and alumni help make this model work globally? Is there a way to trial this at a smaller scale? Perhaps not, given the new open-source technologies needed.
1. Reduce the cost of equipment such as inverters and management systems that are not already on the steep cost reduction curves that PV cells and batteries are by open sourcing the designs and software.
Are there any existing efforts focused on open-sourcing inverters? I could see the software in management being potentially open-sourced; but it seems like it is tougher for hardware like gateways.
(Disclosure: I am working with Dataglen, http://www.dataglen.com/, an energy analytics company.)
Peter Fox-Penner indicates that commercial solar is "utility scale PV is 50%cheaper per MWh! [than rooftop PV]"Source: “U.S. Solar Market Insight Quarter 2 2014,” Prepared for SEIA by GTMResearch, September 5, 2014 and “Grid Edge,” GTM Research, 2013.
Slide31 here: http://www.brattle.com/system/publications/pdfs/000/005/083/original/Public_Power_in_the_Age_of_Smart_Power_APPA_PFP_100614.pdf?14249597542.
2. Create training materials that enable people with limited educations to deploy and maintain small-scale power systems.
Great, but is this practical to develop such knowledge for only local use; Will that lead to full-time employment in that field?
3. Provide the seed capital and business expertise to launch the franchisors in various countries.
Should this funding come from governments? Foundations? VC? Private Equity?
Jul 3, 2017
Great discussion Perry,
I think James is onto something big, however I would suggest that efforts are focused on reducing soft costs that are now a large portion of the entire system cost. So for example, the design optimization of a microgrid, installation costs, purchase and delivery of pre assembled components vs. on-site assembly and installation work. These costs are more than 50% of the lifetime cost of a microgrid. hardware components are already a small percentage of the lifetime system costs.
I also think that the systems should be designed for developed markets as well. Not only for low income Africa! We need to make smart microgrids that will render the macrogrids obsolete. This is already possible with the significant reduction in battery and solar costs. See Mckinsey reports: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/battery-storage-the-next-disruptive-technology-in-the-power-sector and http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/sustainability-and-resource-productivity/our-insights/the-new-economics-of-energy-storage. For funding, I suggest approaching funds such as Allotrope Partners http://www.allotropepartners.com/. James and Perry would be great to collaborate on this with you.