Border Green Energy Team (BGET)

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Overview

Bringing cost-effective solar home solutions to rural Thailand

Overview

Headquarters: Mae Sot, Tak, Thailand
Established: 2005
Impact Areas: Thailand
Type: Hybrid
Energy Sectors: Power Source: Solar Power
Power Use: Off-Grid Lighting and Electricity
Business Model Types: Product Sourcing: Outsource Design, Local Manufacture, Uniform Product
Distribution: 
In-House Salespeople, Sale through Partners
Affordability: In-House Financing
Organization Financing:
 Grants and Donations, Loans and Equity
Scaling: New Locations
Social Impact: Scope/Number Reached
Staff Size: 4 and 2-3 volunteers
Annual Budget: $40,000
Major Funders: Foundation grants
Awards: 2009: Energy Globe World Award
2010: PopTech Social Innovation Fellow
2011: Clinton Global Initiative complimentary member
2011: Santa Clara Global Social Benefit Incubator

ABOUT

BGET is using a utility model to rent customers the equipment they need to make use of their installed solar panels. They are also offering other solutions commensurate with villagers’ financial means, ranging from personal-use lanterns and mobile chargers up to state-of-the- art home systems. BGET’s new home system is financed over three years, with maintenance service included.

 

Energy Products/Services

  • Rehabilitation and ongoing Maintenance of government-installed solar systems

Target Market

  • BGET is initially focused on addressing the repair needs of villages with 80 or more SHS installations, equating to a market of 30,913 households.
  • BGET will then expand into villages with 30 – 80 installed systems, adding 48,385 households to its market.

 

Border Green Energy Team (BGET)

Revenue Streams

  • Grants
  • Management of solar systems

Value Proposition

  • The Thai government’s solar installation project (see ‘Problem Addressed’) failed because the community was not involved and no maintenance infrastructure was created, leaving people skeptical of solar solutions.
  • BGET, however, has 6 years of experience working with rural villagers on solar and other appropriate technology community development projects, making them known and trusted in rural Thailand.
  • BGET’s network of local technicians and area managers use their relationship with the community to best serve the villagers by maintaining existing systems and selling new products according to their needs.

Problem Addressed

  • From 2004 – 2005, the Thai government implemented the Solar Home System (SHS) Project, electrifying 290,716 households throughout the country.
  • While most of the installed solar panels are functional, 80% of these systems are currently not operating because batteries, controllers, lights or other components have failed.

Where They Are Now

Impact to Date

Milestones

  • 2006: Trained 300 local technicians to survey 8,000 solar home systems
  • 2007: Produced training media to distribute to over 200 local government offices
  • 2009: Repaired 80 government installed solar systems
  • 2011: Upgraded 100 solar home systems

Growth Plan

  • 2012: Reach 10,000 households
  • 2014: Reach 35,000 households
  • 2016: Reach 83,000 households

How They Deliver

Product Sourcing & Design

  • BGET buys most of their equipment in-country, except the charge controller which is imported.
  • BGET’s equipment is primarily off-the-shelf lights, batteries and charge controllers, so there is not much design involved.
  • BGET is planning to offer both DC and AC systems.  The AC system will allow people to plug products in.  The DC system will have a small battery with lights but no outlets.  Generally people want AC systems because they like to be able to power their own products.  Many already have products bought when their solar panels were previously working.

Distribution

  • BGET sells its products on a utility model, installing systems and charging customers on a contract to use them.  Like a utility, BGET remains responsible for the upkeep of its customers’ systems, with one technician for every 2 villages or 160 systems.
  • Non-paying customers will have their systems removed.
  • This is in contrast to the government’s original model, which was to just donate the systems.  Since there was no ongoing revenue stream, there was no incentive for maintenance, which is what led to 80% of systems currently being broken.

Revenue & Affordability

  • BGET generally asks customers to sign a contract for 2 years, paying about US$130/year for a large system with 2 10W fluorescent lights and an outlet.
  • Payment is generally made 1-2 times a year, often correlated with harvest income.
  • Most customers currently pay around $10/month for 10 packs of candles, though some pay less.
  • However, because customers got used to having solar power when the government installed their systems 7 years ago, they often recognize the benefits of having power enough to pay for it even if it is more expensive than their current candle expenditure.
  • The government has been somewhat helpful in making systems more affordable, letting BGET install any extra panels they have stored in warehouses, but due to the slow speed of bureaucracy are less able to help customers with payments

Financing

  • BGET is currently in the process of registering a for-profit subsidiary, which it will subcontract to implement the utility projects.

SCALING

  • BGET is planning to expand beyond their current base in the north of Thailand next year.
  • However, they will require a great deal of capital.  Currently their estimation is that each house costs $450 and takes around 3 years to cover its costs.
  • Because BGET is rehabilitating systems originally delivered by the government, local government officials are very supportive of their work.
  • Therefore, one of their methods of expansion will be to approach local government in different provinces, who will promote their business to constituent communities.

More Resources

Online Resources

Contact Information

Border Green Energy Team (BGET)
P.O. Box 66
Mae Sot, Tak 63110
Thailand
( +66-55-534-464 +66-81-376-2027
* salinee@bget.org