Tesla-backed start-up ZOLA Electric deployed a new solar and battery system to power two villages in Africa. The new system is known as INFINITY and generates sufficient power to power two villages with over 1,000 homes. The system will also supply power to schools and businesses in the villages.
ZOLA first came into the limelight in 2015 when it was known as Off Grid Electric. The company was a small Tanzania-based startup at the time, only providing solar panels and energy storage in small villages.
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However, its international recognition came when it received SolarCity financing. The company also received several other partners including a Tesla investor DBL Partners and SolarCity’s CEO at the time, Lyndon Rive. After acquiring SolarCity in 2016, Tesla became a major shareholder of the company. ZOLA has a similar approach to Tesla Energy but uses smaller batteries.
Over the years, the company has seen tremendous growth. Although its batteries are not too big, they can light up a home, charge devices such as phones and run a radio. So far, the company has deployed batteries to over 300,000 homes, reaching about 1.5 million people.
Now, with INFINITY, instead of deploying batteries and solar to each home, it generates solar power that is supplied on a microgrid. Its latest project is a fulfilment of an Elon Musk prediction back in 2016. The Tesla CEO said that some third-world countries would jump the traditional grid connection and go straight to microgrids.
“The advantage of solar and batteries is that you can avoid building electricity plants at all,” Musk said. “So you can be in a remote village and have solar panels that charge a battery pack that then supply power to the whole village without ever having to run thousands of miles of high-voltage cables all over the place.”
This model can be used to power up more villages that still lurk in darkness in developing countries.
Lead image via Pexels