Scaling a Clean Energy Business: Lessons From the BoP
While at most conferences onsolar energy, people talk about the BoS (Balance of System), at the SOCAP 12 conference held last week in San Francisco, it was all about the lessons learned from the BoP (Bottom of the Pyramid)—or the world’s largest, poorest demographic. That’s not only because the many renewable energy businesses working in developing countries see the value of solar energy as a cheaper alternative to kerosene, but also because technology is only a small component of what makes these businesses successful.
Nancy Wimmer, Author of Green Energy for a Billion Poor, explains that with renewable energy businesses in most rural or emerging economies, “Having the best technology is not the starting point. Reaching the large part of the world’s population without grid connectivity is the hard part. What’s key is making the technology easy to operate and meeting the needs of local people without a college education.”
The Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference, focused largely on impact investing and social enterprise, had many lessons to share from renewable energy companies operating in the BoP. A few takeaways: