Realizing the effects of climate change has encouraged new methods of producing clean energy. Kenya is turning human waste into cooking fuel. Michelin is manufacturing an airless, biodegradable tire. Now, an Italian startup is distributing an eco-box that provides water and power to remote areas across the world.
The box itself is a simple container, measuring six by six by six feet. With solar panels on top and water treatment inside, it can help remote communities with both off-grid energy and easily accessible filtered water.
Off Grid Box’s container can provide an entire family of four with filtered water for just 12 cents. A single unit can distribute battery packs to nearly 300 families. Each pack can run three LED lights for up to 4 hours and fully charge two mobile phones.
The new business model is getting a thorough test in Rwanda, where the startup plans to install units in 18 villages. The government has commissioned 14 contractors to work on rural electrification, and Off Grid Box is partnered with three of them so far. By 2020, it hopes to be serving 420,000 end-customers.
The company has yet to find its rhythm in terms of sales, but Off Grid Box’s future looks bright. Conceivably, it’s time for big buyers to care less about trivial machines and start thinking about the technology poorer communities need.