Developing countries are often plagued with unreliable energy sources, a niche a new Berkeley, Calif.-based startup is working to fill. Point Source Power is working to help provide off-the-grid electricity to some of the 1.6 billion people worldwide who don’t currently have access to it.
“We think part of the solution is small-scale power,” says Craig Jacobson, founder of the company, which is developing low-cost energy solutions based on fuel cell technology. The small device allows a person to charge their cell phone, LED light or other product using the biomass energy from their stove that is converted to electricity. It retails for about U.S. $4.
Point Source Power, which was the winner of Cleantech Open’s first-ever Global Cleantech Open Ideas Competition, has an exclusive license to market the fuel cell technology developed at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in Berkley.
Point Source Power plans to begin sales and marketing of the device first in East Africa and Kenya. India and Southeast Asia are also priority markets.
A six-year drought in Kenya has made hydrogen energy sources unreliable, according to Jacobson. Controlled power generation is Point Source Power’s response to this unreliability. It costs about $470 to hook up a power line to a home in Kenya, according to Jacobson.