Developers have been competing to make more efficient, smaller, cheaper rechargeable batteries for various uses enabling the growth in renewable energy. Producers of lithium ion batteries are ahead in building manufacturing facilities giving them an advantage in meeting large volume orders and reducing prices due to economies of scale and decrease the cost of electric cars.
The rate at which battery efficiency has been improving shows no sign of slowing, in five years battery performance in electric cars improved by 40%.
The proposition started as an enhancement of Solar Home Systems (SHS). The theory was that there would be peri urban areas that are not grid connected, and that the households are paying for their charcoal (or wood). While I hoped the systems would catch on and over ten fifteen years become so cheap as to be attractive to ‘truly rural’ households who just grow their own wood, or pick it up from communal land, I didn’t think we could start there.
However I found recently a Kenya market study published by the Alliance which seems to suggest that even in the rural areas, 40% of households pay more than $7 a month for their biomass.
That is staggering and not what I expected. It is also based on 2007 data from a Shell Foundation study! Eight years ago? Have you seen the rise in charcoal prices over the last five years!
So perhaps there already is a substantial market in rural areas for the SHS cooking product.