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Design Thinking Case Study I: Mobisol — Reinventing Solar Energy
 Supply for Rural Africa

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A 'design thinking' case study of solar energy company Mobisol. Read the full story at bit.ly/TIDTmobisol.

Published in: Business

Design Thinking Case Study I: Mobisol — Reinventing Solar Energy
 Supply for Rural Africa

  1. 1. 1 Reinventing Solar Energy Supply for Rural Africa The design thinking case study of »Mobisol« Presented by the community of editors and authors from ThisIsDesignThinking.net:
 This story was compiled by Caroline Szymanski, Klara Lindner, Karen von Schmieden, and Jan Schmiedgen with support from Mobisol. .net
  2. 2. 2 FROM PROTOTYPE TO INNOVATION II EXPLORING THE FIELD! !Eva Köppen, Birgit Jobst, Holger Rhinow, Christoph Meinel (PI) Hasso Plattner Institute for Software Systems Engineering HPI-Stanford DesignThinking Research Program Prof-Dr-Helmert-Str. 2-3 D-14482 Potsdam, Germany http://www.hpi.uni-potsdam.de Wort-Bild-Marke | Zusatz einzeilig | Pantone uncoated | Größe 40 | Name: hpi_logo_pcu_wb_sl1 We showcase stories of design thinking The curatorial team thanks its sponsors for funding and support   Stories are curated by academic editors and contributed by authors from academia and practice worldwide. 
 So far the following institutions have contributed:   You can read all their stories here:   http://thisisdesignthinking.net/design-thinking-stories/
  3. 3. 3 On — off, yeah! Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  4. 4. 4Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net The system …
  5. 5. 5 … and how it works Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  6. 6. Initial Design Research Discovering context and building blocks for potential business models
  7. 7. What ‘off-the-grid’ really means … 7
  8. 8. What ‘off-the-grid’ really means … 7 Powerless Unbanked Isolated
  9. 9. Off-grid energy is the future of electricity in Africa 8Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  10. 10. Rent out the system. 
 People can only afford 
 $5 a month. 9 What people
 need is light! Systems need 
 to be cheap!. Oh, oh … Expert tips …
  11. 11. 10Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  12. 12. 11Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  13. 13. 12Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  14. 14. 13 ! Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  15. 15. The wisdom of hindsight: What you learn if you really look and listen … 14 # Observation ‘Insight’ Design Principle 1 What people really need 
 is radio and TV, not light. Demand for electricity is way 
 higher than just for lighting. Solar panels must be big enough to power larger appliances, such as televisions. 2 No (banking) infrastructure to save up money and houses can’t be locked. Money has to be spent 
 the moment it is earned. Monthly payment options 
 are a core requirement. 3 Belongings are well-kept 
 and respected. Private property is better 
 maintained than rentals are. People need the feeling they 
 actually own their solar panels. 4 Existing PV solar are 
 often non-functioning. No supportive infrastructure? 
 » People won’t maintain their solar panels. Maintenance infrastructure 
 on-site is key to success. A selection of collected observations, user needs, insights and derived design principles
  16. 16. 15 ? The building blocks in context
  17. 17. 15 ? The building blocks in context
  18. 18. The Tricky Details If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.
  19. 19. Iterating the details … 17 1 2 3 Finding a steady 
 revenue model Tackling the installation and maintenance infrastructure Securing the last mile distribution
  20. 20. 18 PROBLEM 18 Challenge #1: Steady revenue model Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  21. 21. 19 19 Challenge #1: Steady revenue model SOLUTION
  22. 22. 19 19 Challenge #1: Steady revenue model SOLUTION
  23. 23. 20 Challenge #2: Installation and maintenance infrastructure 20PROBLEMSource: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  24. 24. 211 2 SOLUTION: ITERATION I
  25. 25. 22 !"#$%&#%'$()*"+%,-.,/0)1)#2,34"+)-*$%4,*%11* !"#$%&#%'$()*"+%,-.,/0)1)#2,34"+)-*$%4,*%11* ! " # $%&# %' $( ) * " +%, - ., / 0 ) 1) # 2 , 34 " +) - * $%4 , * %11* East West SOLUTION: ITERATION I 1 2
  26. 26. 22 Installation Manual Mobisol Solar Home System !"#$%&#%'$()*"+%,-.,/0)1)#2,34"+)-*$%4,*%11* !"#$%&#%'$()*"+%,-.,/0)1)#2,34"+)-*$%4,*%11* ! " # $%&# %' $( ) * " +%, - ., / 0 ) 1) # 2 , 34 " +) - * $%4 , * %11* East West 4 Consider the right direction of the panelConsider the right direction of the panel. 13 Secure the power cable of the panel to a Z hook leg with the cable tie. Mounting the panel on the roof Think about where to place the panel before going on the roof Avoid any shading! cable of the panel to a Z- 14 You have successfully prepared the panel Mounting the panel on the roof Think about where to place the panel before going on the roof! You have successfully prepared the panel. Wiring Think about where you want to put the lights and how much cable is necessary. If the light cable is too short use an extension cable. 1 Always start wiring with the light. Attach the light Controller. Use the cable clips toattach the wiresto the wall 2 Place the switch in an easily accessible location CORRECT 3 Connect the lights tothe Mobisol Solar Controller Think about where you want to put the lights and how much cable is necessary. If the light cable is too short use an Always start wiring with the light. Attach the light bulb to the ceiling and work your way to the Mobisol Controller. Use the cable clips toattach the wiresto the wall. Place the switch in an easily accessible location. WRONG tothe Mobisol Solar Controller. Think about where you want to put the lights and how much cable is necessary. If the light cable is too short use an bulb to the ceiling and work your way to the Mobisol WRONG 4 Consider the right direction of the panelConsider the right direction of the panel. SOLUTION: ITERATION I 1 2
  27. 27. 23 “Our customers feel like they just bought a Mercedes. They are very proud of having the solar panel but at the same time also very afraid of breaking the precious, new panel. Customers would actually rather pay someone to come install the panel and know their new ‘Mercedes’ — aka solar panel — is safe.” — Klara Lindner (Customer Experience Architect) SOLUTION: ITERATION II Challenge #2: Installation and maintenance infrastructure Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  28. 28. 24SOLUTION: ITERATION IISource: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  29. 29. Challenge #3: Last mile distribution 25Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net PROBLEM
  30. 30. 26Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net SOLUTION Challenge #3: Last mile distribution
  31. 31. 27Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net SOLUTION Challenge #3: Last mile distribution
  32. 32. Opportunity #1: Last Mile Distribution! 28Source: © Mobisol, ThisIsDesignThinking.net
  33. 33. Impact What Mobisol has achieved so far
  34. 34. Mobisol’s impact to date 30 Environment All systems installed until December 2015 save a total of 15,525 t CO2 eq per year Education and Capacity Building People trained in Mobisol Akademie Tanzania/Rwanda About 600/200 End-user training delivered to Over 35,000 customers Children being able to study at night About 105,000 Jobs Full-time jobs created Over 400 Small entrepreneurs working as contractors for Mobisol Over 280 Small businesses built from solar solutions About 12,000
  35. 35. Outlook What the future might hold for Mobisol
  36. 36. 32 Own the last mile vimeo.com/148290428
  37. 37. 33 Want to learn more? bit.ly/TIDTmobisol
  38. 38. Credits   This case study was compiled by Caroline Szymanski, Klara Lindner (Business Development, Mobisol), Karen von Schmieden, and Jan Schmiedgen with support from Mobisol.   You can read more about the Mobisol story at bit.ly/TIDTmobisol.   ThisIsDesignThinking.net is a community of editors and authors that collect and curate case studies of ‘design thinking’. The site is financed by the Hasso-Plattner-Institut, Potsdam and the HPI-Stanford Design Thinking Research Program. 34

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