Arnergy: Breaking fresh frontiers in renewable energy sector
If they were to be judged by their appearances, nobody could easily decipher their capability, based on their innocent and shy looks. But beneath those looks lie extraordinary inventors, who have broken fresh frontiers in the renewable energy sector.
Femi Adeyemo and Kunle Odebunmi are two award-winning young Nigerian innovators, who invented a Solar energy system that will enable more than 600m Nigerians and Africans that currently live and run businesses in off-grid and weak grid areas, rent uninterrupted electricity and pay only for the energy consumed daily or monthly.
Adeyemo, a Computer Engineering graduate of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho, is the Chief Executive Officer of Alternative Renewable Energy (ARNERGY) Solar Limited, Lagos, while his partner, Odebunmi is a graduate of Accounting. Adeyemo, had after graduation worked in the Telecoms industry with Huawei Technologies on several of MTN nationwide Base Station Controllers (BSC) and Base Station Transceivers (BTS) rollout and maintenance projects before he left Nigeria in 2006.
Through their latest inventions, the duo have advanced their business to the next level by developing the Wireless Plug and Play Arnergy System that works with or without internet/mobile network, the first to be developed by local Africans for the African market.
The revolutionary Pay-As-You-Go Solar Power System technology allow customers to buy recharge pin using RANA (Arnergy’s Mobile Electricity app) or via an agent in several rural communities without mobile network.
According to Adeyemo, several Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) that have closed shop due to epileptic power supply and those contemplating to close down or struggling due to the recent hike in fuel price now have a new lease of life. “Arnergy 500, one of our line of innovative solar rental products is the solution to ensuring Micro and Small businesses enjoy uninterrupted, on-demand electricity to run their businesses sustainably.
“Arnergy 500 powers lighting, television, standing fan, ceiling fan, laptop, printer, barbers clipper, and satellite decoder, to mention a few appliances. The rural poor and middle class Nigerians have no reason to depend on Kerosene lantern or petrol generators to light their homes or run their businesses. They only need to sign up on Arnergy’s website to subscribe to daily or monthly solar rental packages, pick up the kits at several designated locations and our agents will ensure the system is properly set up and supply uninterrupted electricity.”
This new technology takes into account low and uncertain income people and the middle class and their inability to purchase solar outrightly. The company believes by removing financial and institutional barriers to obtain solar energy, the flexible payment solution will enable several millions of Africans, micro and small businesses to gain access to clean and affordable energy.
To Odebunmi, the company’s line of Solar Rental Systems present potentials capable of transforming Nigeria’s electricity sector, given its extreme versatile application and ease of management. “With great adaptation to the Nigerian situation, this innovation presents corollary industrial, agricultural and MSME developments through unique features. A massive assembling plant is now being planned in Northern Nigeria to meet the expected surge in demand for the solar rental products.
Before now, their exploits had earned them recognition and support grants from within and outside the country. In December 2015, the Solar Nigeria Programme, an initiative of the United Kingdom’s Government Department For International Development (DfID), implemented by Adam Smith International (ASI) awarded Arnergy a 100,000 Pounds (US$146,000) grant to expand operations in Northern Nigeria.
In July 2015, the duo emerged as final winners of the BoI’s request for low-cost rural solar energy proposals, with their innovative and out of the box ideas for confronting the hydra-headed energy problems bedeviling the country.
“Our efforts are targeted at rural communities that are off the national grid and sought to use abundant solar energy to provide power using state of the art durable and easily applicable technology that excelled where previous attempts failed. Our presentations secured long-term financing for the installation of off-grid solar home system in six Nigerian communities with financing from BoI/United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that has seen 2000 people in Osun and Edo States, enjoy uninterrupted electricity in the last seven months,” said Adeyemo.
On the advantage, “100 million Nigerians who live in rural areas with little or no network coverage and off the national grid, will have uninterrupted electricity through Arnergy solar, especially in areas where similar efforts had failed.
“There are also the potentials for massive job creation for teeming youth who would act as agents for the local assembling of the solar kits, installation, routine maintenance and sale of electricity tokens to the last-mile customers, as well as improved energy access for electric dependent MSMEs, such as Tailoring, Computer Business Centres, Agribusiness, Barbing Salons, Real Estate Agency Firms, Accounting Firms and Law Firms, among others.”
There are three categories and sizes available to match the varying electricity needs and payment abilities of different customer groups-Arnergy 60, Arnergy 300 and Arnergy 500. The smallest unit can provide LED light bulbs for three rooms, a bundled radio, mobile phone charging, DC television and DC fan per day. The largest system powers multiple lights (five rooms), consumer appliances like Laptop/Tablet, Blender, AC/DC television, AC/DC fan and unlimited mobile phone charging and for micro and small business appliances.
Then, how does it work? The task seems easy. An easily mountable solar panel is fixed with about the same effort as is needed to unwrap a new television set. The solar panel comes with its own integrated electronic control systems, with in-built sophisticated long lasting Lithium-ion battery and cloud-based software to manage all operations. Subscribers pay a token signup fee to have it installed by accredited Solar Angels (micro entrepreneurs) and managed as a permanent property of the company, who takes responsibility for ownership and maintenance for life.
Then, by paying a paltry sum as low as N50 daily, customer will receive their electricity token to unlock solar kit that is totally dependent of mobile network or internet broadband. When the token is punched into the solar kit, “24 hours uninterrupted electricity emerges.”
Speaking on the future, Adeyemo stressed that the company aspires to reach millions of households in peri-urban, rural communities and MSMEs, stimulating economic and social development in the country, while simultaneously contributing to global environmental protection and playing their part in actaulising the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number seven, which is-affordable energy.
He said the organisation is working within the framework of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), noting that NERC’s existing policies and laws guide their operations. “We currently do not have to get any license for our operations as stated by NERC.”
“We source for raw materials outside the country for now. We must have it at the back of our mind that technology is ubiquitous. We currently mass manufacture in Asia, but very soon, our short to medium term plan is to have a local assembling plant in Nigeria, which we are seriously working on, to achieve very soon.”
While speaking on the actual cost compared to DISCOs charges, Adeyemo said because the cost of darkness is very expensive, the price charged by his organisation is between a willing buyer and a willing seller, which is as low as N50 per day to enjoy uninterrupted power supply.
“As a responsible corporate citizen, we know our right and obligations. We pay our statutory obligations to the relevant government agencies, including taxes, which we do regularly.”