Jason Overdorf for SMITHSONIAN.COM: For a little more than a year, the family has been supplementing the sporadic electricity the village gets from the grid with solar energy, thanks to a new pay-as-you-go business model pioneered by Canadian entrepreneur Paul Needham and his company, Simpa Networks. Call it “rent-to-own solar.”
Needham is a serial tech entrepreneur whose online advertising company BidClix made its way into the portfolio of Microsoft. As a doctoral student in economics at Cambridge, he was obsessed with the reasons customers will shell out for certain products and not others. One of the questions that always bugged him was, “Why don’t I own solar panels?” The reason, he determined, was the high up-front costs.
Imagine if mobile phone service was sold like solar energy. From an operator’s perspective, it would have made great sense to try to sell customers 10 years of phone calls in advance, so as to quickly earn back the money invested in building cell towers. But the person who suggested such a strategy would have been fired immediately, Needham says.
“You want to charge people for what they value, not the technology that’s providing it,” he says in a telephone interview. Cont'd...
Equipped with an extremely low power, smart interface the Smart SMP pyranometers offer industry standard digital and amplified analog outputs within the well-known CMP series housings. The output range is programmed so that all SMP pyranometers have identical sensitivities, allowing easy installation and exchange for recalibration. Serial communication allows access to measurement data, instrument status, operating parameters and calibration history.
Building on the proven CMP Series design and technology that is used around the world, the new SMP pyranometers add digital signal processing and interfaces optimised for industrial data acquisition and control systems.