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access:wind
Location: 109 Dwight Street, New Haven, Connecticut, United States United States
Founded in: 2010
Stage: Post-launch
Number of employees: 1-5
Short URL: vator.co/access-wind
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access:wind

what if distributed energy cost less than grid power?
Startup/business
New Haven, Connecticut, United States United States
http://www.access-wind.com
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Company description

Access:wind meets enormous demand for low cost electricity in emerging economies by creating local jobs, local skills and local products.

Access:wind has developed a breakthrough innovation on existing technologies that is far more cost effective than any other household electricity option currently available. We work with auto mechanics, small scale manufacturers and metalworkers in East Africa to build our wind turbines from locally available materials. These are the people who will build the clean energy future.


Team
Business model

Access:wind designs, builds and installs extremely competitive micro renewable energy generators in emerging economies. Our turbines are can be built without any specialist materials, processes or imports that are not already found in abundance in remote developing country contexts. Our social model and open design principles create local skills and jobs in the nascent clean energy market.

We are currently pursuing two models, both of which have begun bringing in revenue at a small scale. 

  1. Micro power station service: we install a small power station of 3-10 machines and rent the power out to a nearby client community. Due to the small size and low cost of each machine, several different payment and ownership structures are possible, ranging from payment in instalments towards outright ownership, to micro-finance supported investment and repayment, to sponsorship by a donor organisation. In each case the ubiquity of the materials and skills used to build each installation mean that the investment and skills stay local, rather than going to China, as is currently the case with solar PV.
  2. Consulting: we work through existing NGO and school systems to train motivated engineers, mechanics, tradesmen and business people to build and install our wind turbines. Once they are trained, we connect our engineers with private and institutional clients who are keen to invest in a household energy option that is more cost competitive, and more socially beneficial, than anything else currently available.

We currently operate in Kenya, which has seen a boom in the household solar market in response to low extension of centralised electricity service - the electric grid only extends to 15% of the population. Tens of millions of people have no access to electricity despite the country’s high relative per capita income and and research has shown that rural households can spend up to a third of their income on energy. This represents an enormous market and an enormous opportunity for social change.

 

Competitive advantage

Our core technology is a micro wind turbine that can be built in even the most remote developing country contexts - wherever cars are found - without any need for imports, skills or technologies that are not already readily available in situ. The total installed cost is 3 times lower per kWh than solar photovoltaics and many times more so than any other micro-wind turbine currently available. In Kenya, where we currently operate, this is cheaper than grid power. 

Each turbine produces 130W - ample power for an East African home - for $250 total commercial installed cost. At this price, for example, a small rural family running three kerosene lamps would make back the investment in seven months, at which point their energy is free.

The design is competitive enough to offer a strong value proposition to customers at all levels. But beyond this, we believe its social viability is key to opening up household electricity markets in energy poor areas. Our design is simple and replicable by small-scale manufacturers - this enables us to leapfrog the major issues that have prevented modern, clean energy from reaching hundreds of millions of people in Sub Saharan Africa, namely coordinated logistics, road and communication infrastructure, effective centralised administration, large private and public investment etc. 

Note that although wind has been an obvious starting point for us in the areas we are working in, we have already begun branching out into pedal power (for very low income customers) and micro hydro using the same core technology.