First Solar-Backed Off-Grid Innovator to Capitalize on Kenya Experience
Solar-powered microgrid response to energy access challenge, proven by more than two years of field-testing
BERKELEY, CA – Powerhive, Inc. today announced that its industry-leading portfolio of off-grid metering and control solutions has successfully completed over two years of field testing in Kenya, paving the way for its commercialization and scale-up. With financial and technical backing from First Solar, Inc. (NASDAQ: FSLR), a leading global provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions, Powerhive pioneered the delivery of locally generated energy in Kenya’s Kisii province, where over 90% percent of the population does not have access to electricity.
With plans to expand its coverage to over 200,000 households in Kenya, Powerhive leveraged the pilot projects to test and refine its range of innovative solutions, designed to enable microgrid deployments in rural regions. Through the pilot program, First Solar’s advanced module technology was deployed with Powerhive’s innovative metering and control platform, and its customers are currently able to pre-purchase electricity for commercial and residential use through mobile banking services.
“Powerhive’s technology and data-driven approach to microgrid development and operations will enable the formation of a new asset class. It will enable us to cost-effectively reach tens of millions of people in rural villages unserved by grids while offering strong risk-weighted returns to investors,” said Powerhive CEO Christopher Hornor. “We have uniquely combined the most cost efficient methods for billing, operations, customer service, and development at scale while respecting the local customs within the areas where we operate.”
First Solar’s backing of Powerhive is a major validation of the Berkeley-based company’s technology, allowing it to prove its rural electrification solutions at commercial scale. As part of its effort to enable Powerhive’s commercial strategy, First Solar made an investment of undisclosed value in 2013 and continues to contribute its expertise in scaling deployment, technology, and commercial development. Marc van Gerven, First Solar’s Vice President for Global Marketing, also serves on Powerhive’s Board of Directors.
“Our support of Powerhive stems from a belief that we need to transform the world from being energy supply-driven to being demand-driven. In other words, energy generation and delivery needs to be optimized to ensure that electricity is available when it is needed and where it is needed; this is the driving principle behind our focus on Local Energy,” van Gerven said. “With its innovative technology, Powerhive forms an important part of the Local Energy value chain – the metering and control of locally generated electricity – allowing us to move closer to our objective of delivering affordable, locally-generated energy on demand.”
Powerhive has developed a series of innovations designed to enable microgrid deployments in rural regions. Its portfolio includes the Honeycomb cloud-based remote monitoring and control platform, the Asali smart meter and the Site Wizard for Analysis, Reconnaissance, and Mapping (SWARM) project development tool.
Four pilot deployments have been operational for over two years, constituting a total generation capacity of 80kW and serving four rural villages, benefiting over 1500 people, ranging from residential users to small businesses deploying a range of services that were previously unavailable such as maize milling, welding, incubating chickens, and hair salons.
Powerhive was founded in 2011 to provide access to productive, affordable, and reliable microgrid electricity. Powerhive’s proprietary technology platform and business model enable the origination, construction, financing, and management of the world’s most bankable and advanced solar microgrids. For more information about Powerhive, please visit powerhive.com
About First Solar
First Solar is a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar systems which use its advanced module and system technology. The company’s integrated power plant solutions deliver an economically attractive alternative to fossil-fuel electricity generation today. From raw material sourcing through end-of-life module recycling, First Solar’s renewable energy systems protect and enhance the environment. For more information about First Solar, please visit firstsolar.com.
Daniel Boucher, Public Relations
Direct line: +1 916 342 8074
Email: communications [at] powerhive [dot] com
First Solar, Inc.
Reuven Proença, Director of Corporate Communications, EMEA
Email: reuven.proenca [at] firstsolar [dot] com