2019 Young Entrepreneurs Awards winner: Dr Sebastian Groh

Initiative: ME SOLshare Ltd

Country of impact: Bangladesh and India

Peer-to-peer solar technology that’s bringing income and electricity to isolated communities in Bangladesh and India

Imagine how your life would feel without access to electricity. No cool drink or fan when the weather’s hot. No light to switch on when it gets dark. And definitely no internet.

Inspired by the idea of combining renewable energy with the chance for remote rural communities to earn money from the sun, Dr Sebastian Groh came up with SOLshare – a business that now benefits more than 3,000 people.

SOLshare’s unique technology connects households and micro-businesses through solar home systems, creating a peer-to-peer network that allows off-grid rural communities to use and trade energy.

So far, Sebastian and his team have installed 25 solar peer-to-peer micro-grids, known as SOLgrids in Bangladesh, and two pilot grids are now also in place in Assam, India.

It means that rather than relying on polluting fuels such as kerosene and diesel for heat and light, thousands of people can now access safe, clean, reliable solar power and, in turn, electricity.

At the same time, they can earn an income from the solar energy they harness. Users are empowered to be solar power producers or consumers, or both.

Innovation and economic empowerment

“Access to electricity is critical for a remote village, but it is the flexibility and profitability of energy use that provide the key ingredient for innovation and for the change that will lead to sustainable development,” says Sebastian.

“Our technology has helped improve livelihoods by increasing economic returns, building community resilience and creating alternative income-generating activities, all while reducing global carbon emissions.”

SOLshare’s next step is to scale up its reach within Bangladesh, India and further afield – ultimately bringing affordable energy and a stable income to millions.