The Economic Times: Singapore co projects demand for solar chargers in rural India

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

SINGAPORE: Singapore-based solar charger maker, Third Wave Power, expects a strong demand for its power packages in rural India.

“We expect demand for portable solar charges to reach a high of 40 million units in the next five years in rural India, including small towns,” Third Wave’s co-founder and chief executive officer V S Hariharan said here today.

Present demand is nominal in the range of a few thousand pieces a year, he said.

Hariharan said the company’s initial survey of India’s rural market for portable solar charges shows demand would come from places away from the main electricity grid or even those within the power network but facing chronic shortage of electricity supplies.

Based on such high potential demand, Third Wave has designed light solar chargers which include necessities such as flash light and radio in every piece.

“We can charge these solar panels anywhere in the sun and then use it to re-charge mobile phones and other light-power consuming instruments,” Hariharan told PTI.

The Indian market is a major model for the company which exports its light-weight solar chargers to markets in Asia, Europe and the United States.

It is also designed for use during typhoons and distress environment after natural calamities, when power supplies are disrupted even in developed countries.

But India remains a unique market for Third Wave. “There were constant need for recharging mobiles/cells but it was becoming more challenging in rural areas, especially those having to work away from power grids, he pointed out”, he said.

These mobile phone users include farmers and healthcare workers in remotest regions, fishermen on high seas as well as campers on hills, among others.

In some smaller towns and dwellings, an increasing number of people were willing to pay from Rs 5 to Rs 15 for recharging their mobile phones, noted Hariharan.

He cited an industry report showing rural area mobile phone users accounting for 54 per cent of the 55.48 crore total cells in the country.

Hariharan backed his market estimation, pointing out that some 80,000 villages in India were without electricity.

Presently, Third Wave produces its portable solar packs in the southern Malaysian city of Johor Baru.

“But going forward, we plan to manufacture our portable solar systems in India, China and Thailand,” said Hariharan who established Third Wave two years ago after working for two decades in a multi-national corporation producing consumer goods.

Third Wave was upgrading the solar-based power chargers constantly and working on reducing the final price of the product.


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