Bringing clean, sustainable energy to the developing world
Radically affordable energy means power for everyone. See how ThoughtWorks Social Impact Program is helping Simpa Networks bring clean, sustainable energy to the developing world.
Simpa’s solution to making clean energy “radically affordable” is a concept they call Progressive PurchaseTM. This pricing model seeks to achieve three essential aspects of affordability: a low upfront cost, an affordable total cost of ownership, and flexibility in how consumers can pay for the total system over time. Simpa SES are financed with a pay-per-use method, modeled off the familiar pay-as-you-go pricing model for prepaid mobile phone service, common in developing countries. Customers pre-pay, in cash, in whatever amounts desired at local “recharge” agents signed up by Simpa. Agents use SMS to communicate purchases to Simpa, where the core revenue management software debits their account and sends back a usage code. Once the paid-for energy is consumed, the SES locks and the customer is asked to purchase another top-up. These top-ups don’t just pay for the power; they also pay down the cost of the SES itself. When the cost is fully paid off, the SES unit is permanently unlocked, and generates free electricity for the rest of the expected 10-15 year lifetime.
The technology to implement Simpa’s vision had to be built and the concept test-marketed to gain investor confidence and further investment. In order to get the Simpa SES pilot launched as fast as possible and to make best use of the existing seed funds, Simpa looked to ThoughtWorks to develop the core revenue management software and SMS communications technology. ThoughtWorks deployed a team of experts in mobile technology from its offices in Bangalore, near the site of the first Pilot. Design, coding, testing and deployment for this custom SMS-enabled revenue system were completed, from scratch, in twelve weeks. The new system is now helping Simpa transform energy expenditure into an asset purchase for billions of people at the base of the global economic pyramid, and is in commercial use for the Indian households targeted in the Pilot.