Good news at Solarcentury and SolarAid

When the innovation team at Solarcentury told me they were shooting for a high-aesthetic solar product that could be integrated into a roof for the same price as modules bolted onto a roof, I didn’t think they could do it. Yesterday we launched the world-first outcome of their passionate work, Sunstation, at the Tate Modern. And my misplaced pessimism stands as an example of the mass underestimation of solar that hindsight is revealing in many places around the world these days.
We hope Sunstation will become a standard bearer on the front lines of the great global energy transition that is unfolding. It is currently on sale in the UK and the Netherlands, and if you like the look of it, and the c. 6% annual rate of return it will deliver for UK homeowners, do please help spread the word.
Meanwhile in Africa, solar continues to displace oil use for lighting with significant cash savings and improved quality of life for every light sold. After SolarAid’s success catalysing the first two solar lighting markets on the continent, in Kenya and Tanzania, we hit a rocky period, in which more misjudgement on my part played a role, and learned some hard lessons. But now our super-successful first CEO, Nick Sireau, has returned to lead the organisation. We are spinning off our retail arms in the two catalysed markets, and will focus our efforts on the countries we have been in for a while, but have yet to catalyse: Zambia, Malawi and Uganda. We will also add some solar-powered disaster relief work to our revised mission.
Ian McEwan will broadcast an appeal for us on the BBC on Sunday 22nd May at 7:55pm, repeated at 9:24 pm, then again on Thursday 27th May at 3:25pm. We have posted a preview of what he will say on You-Tube. Everyone at SolarAid will be extremely grateful for any echoing of this appeal in e-mails to friends or on social media. Meanwhile, Solarcentury will continue to donate 5% of our profits to SolarAid each year, and it goes without saying that we would welcome with open arms any company that would like to join us in turning a tiny fraction of profits into the kind of transformative social good we are unlocking at the bottom of the energy ladder.