Corporate Social Responsibility writer for Justmeans, Antonio Pasolini is a journalist based in Brazil who writes about alternative energy, green living and sustainability. He also edits Energyrefuge.com, a top web destination for news and comment on renewable energy and Elpis.org, a recycled paper bag/magazine distributed from health food stores in London, formerly his hometown for over a decade....
Socially Responsible UK Solar Company Announces Launch of US$7.9m Funding Round
Eight19, a company based in Cambridge UK and which is developing printed plastic solar cells as well as IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar power technology for emerging markets, has announced the launch of a £5m (US$7.9m) "Series B" funding round. The funding will be used for the further development of the company's low cost printed plastic solar film and for accelerating the deployment of Eight19's IndiGo pay as you go solar power products. Both products are already attracting strong customer demand in emerging markets, Eight19 said in a press statement.
The company received £4.5m (US$7.1m) of funding in September 2010 from the Carbon Trust and Rhodia SA and it is expected that the new round will be taken up by a combination of existing and new investors.
The company said it is beginning the mass rollout of pay-as-you-go solar products in Kenya, with 4,000 units scheduled for deployment in the first quarter of 2012. This follows the product launch that took place in that country last September. It is now being launched in other parts of Africa and the Indian sub-continent.
IndiGo takes its inspiration from pay-as-you-go cell phone schemes. The system consists of a low-cost solar panel, a battery unit with an inbuilt mobile phone charger and a high efficiency light emitting diode (LED) lamp. Users put credit on their IndiGo device using a scratchcard, which is validated over SMS using a standard mobile phone. It costs $1 a week to run and it is leased for an initial $10 fee.
The goal is to replace kerosene lamps which, besides performing poorly, also contribute to bad health and global warming. The World Bank says there's a US$38bn replacement market for kerosene lighting across the globe. Eight19 says interest in IndiGo is so high that demand currently exceeds supply.
Recently Eight19 also announced the commissioning of Europe's largest printed solar development facility at its headquarters in the UK. The plant will be used to further develop Eight19's flexible Printed Plastic Solar film using roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques at a peak linear speed of over 3.6 kilometres per hour.
"This round of funding, which is expected to close in Q2, 2012 will underpin the next stage in the company's journey to develop its leading technology base for low cost printed plastic solar cells. The IndiGo provides clean, renewable energy in a uniquely affordable way, allowing users to grow their energy supply over time. It will transform the lives of those living off-grid so that communities will be able to dispose of their kerosene lamps and replace them with electric lights", said CEO Simon Bransfield-Garth.
Image credit: Eight19