16 mar 2013

Buffalo Project: on-demand mobile electricity. A simple and unique solution

In recent years mobile phone communication has been a major contributor to economic growth in developing countries but its spread has been hindered by limited charging options for the 650 million off-grid mobile phone users who have network access.
Having an operational phone means access to services that have improved banking, health and farming in Africa and Asia. Many millions of people at the bottom of the economic pyramid are expected to acquire mobile phones, greatly benefiting their lives, business activities and access to information. However, most of these new subscribers will not have direct access to electricity.

In response to the growing problem, London-based Buffalo Grid have developed a text message activated solar-powered cellphone charging station to help cut electricity costs. The technology utilizes a 60-watt photo-voltaic panel, which charges a battery that is then taken to the village on the back of a bicycle. The portable micro generator extracts power from the harvested solar energy using a technique called maximum power point tracking (MPPT) - providing on-demand mobile electricity. The system is activated when a customer sends a text message to the device. Once the message is received, an LED above a socket on the battery lights up, indicating that it is ready to charge a phone. On average, each text message allows a phone to be charged for 1.5 hours; where a fully charged 'buffalo grid' unit can last for three days, with up to 10 charging points and charge 30 to 50 phones per day.

In addition to this, Buffalo provides environmental benefits through supplying zero CO2 power which translates into increased access to safe lighting. The system can also be used to provide off-grid power for a range of uses from medical to educational applications.
It will help in bringing a considerable amount of economic growth to hundreds of rural communities around the world.

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Photo credit © Buffalo Grid
Buffalo entrepreneur, Bududa village, Uganda



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