Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

H2020

REACH Report Summary

Project ID: 718404

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - REACH (Renewable Energy and Connectivity Hub)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

There are over 1.4 billion people globally without access to power and more than 95% of them are living either in Sub-Sahara Africa or in developing Asia. Nearly 500 million people worldwide have a mobile phone connection but no access to the electricity grid. Many people travel 15-20 km distances to the closest “phone shop” where they pay a nominal fee of ca. €0.20 to have their mobile phone charged. It takes half a day from their usual working periods. Often, poor maintenance means charging stations are not even working when customers arrive. This inconvenience incurs significant losses in productivity and financial resources. On top of that, without any internet access they are deprived of high quality internet based services.

Easy access to power will provide them better communication opportunity (via mobile phone) which will definitely help the under privileged people to improve their livelihood, increase their income and personal security. So, nowadays full functional mobile phone is not a luxury rather a necessity. And BuffaloGrid Hub will contribute substantially to keep the thousands of mobile phone in operation.

BuffaloGrid aims at creating the world’s first network of power and internet access provision for off-grid communities in developing countries. Successful deployment of the hubs in these countries will allow rural communities a reliable, clean and affordable access to mobile communication and internet connectivity, to facilitate local enterprises and drive economic growth.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In this study, we have performed technical and commercial feasibility study of BuffaloGrid Hub Deployment. Under the technical feasibility study, the Hub and the printed circuit board design have been reviewed. Using the new design, BuffaloGrid will now be able to reduce the Hub manufacture cost by up to 75%. Four types of payment system have been defined. Considering the payment system and future expansion of the Hub services (internet, e-services etc.,) new server system has been redesigned which will be implemented in four phases. 

In the commercial feasibility market research, environmental impact assessment, partnership establishment, risk analysis and competitor analysis were performed. Several field surveys were performed at Assam, Bihar, Jharkanda and Karnatka in India to identify people’s need for power, possible location of Hub placement, people’s willingness to pay. The field survey allowed us to start our first installations in India. Now 27 hubs are in operation in India. We have established partnerships in different sectors such as for Online services, improving people’s security, power connection in refugee camps etc. Our risk analysis study will support us to prepare alternate plans in order to cope with different challenges that come our way.

We have also performed our initial environmental assessment study which will allow us to be more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint. We have developed a draft IPR plan and already submitted a patent application in the USA, UK, China and India. Finally, a lot of effort have been performed to prepare our business plan. Our thanks to our H2020 coach who has supported us to consolidate our financial plan and adjust it for the Indian economy market. With all of these analysis performed in this study we have identified our next technical and commercial tasks, which are mainly focused on further development of the Hub, PCB and server designs, Hub life cycle analysis (LCA), execution of planned works with several partners from EU, India and Africa, installation of new Hubs and finally control and monitor them.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

BuffaloGrid has developed a unique solar power based Hub system and a patent-pending remote payment control mechanism by which mobile phones (or other devices) can be charged under the control of a central server to ensure accountability, transparency and market insights. This solution has been awarded several prizes as innovation recognition and two patent applications are files in India, China, USA and EU in 2015.

Our innovative social business idea will work similar to the Nobel Prize winning concept by Dr. Muhammad Yunus. Instead of giving loan to the underprivileged people, we will provide cost free hub to the local entrepreneurs (called hereafter as ‘BuffaloGrid agents or agents’) and the agents will get 30% of the total revenue. Additionally, the agents can generate a small business based on and around the hub’s activities.

The agents can take advantage of BuffaloGrid’s planned partnership with EU online services providers to establish e-education or e-health centre in their localities. On top of this, local agents can use the waiting time of the users to promote other side businesses. In this way each Hub will function as a small business centre for the agents and a communication heart for the local community.

The Hub uses solar energy to generate power. Hence, we will save 157 kg C02 for each hub per year. Globally we will contribute 11,771 ton CO2 emissions saving by 2023 (considering 74,975 hubs).

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