Project Everest

Work Update

Timor Leste: Small Scale Solar

Matthew Washer
Matthew Washer | Feb 20, 2018 | in Knowledge Base

Our current business model is focusing on providing large and medium scale businesses access to large scale solar panels. We see this as a step in the right direction to gain capital and have a massive environmental positive impact on Timor-Leste. Though this will still be a focus for the team, we have run into a possible roadblock with our current supplier and thus we had a workshop discussing the possible pathways the project could take in the future (while searching for alternate suppliers - several of which are promising leads).


One of the ideas that came out of this discussion was to look into small scale solar solutions for households at the same time (similar to the Malawi ModSol project). This involves panels as small as the palm of your hand that can be used to charge small electronics such as phones, or to power a few lights. We have had some exposure to small scale products through Sundaya’s product list. For example one of their products involves a small panel that charges a battery that can be put into an adapter to charge a phone or to power lights.


As many people in Timor have mobile phones and lights in their homes, and the cost of small solar products is much more affordable, the market potential for these products would be large in comparison to large scale solar products. The product would thus gain a lot more exposure, consequently increasing the populations’ awareness of solar panels and improving its reputation as a reliable source of energy. We believe this is important as awareness and accessibility are two roadblocks preventing solar from becoming a lot more widespread.


The next step is looking at how we could implement this idea: where do we import the products from? or can we source the parts and make it ourselves? How do we afford this?

Additionally, Sundaya’s small scale products, even though they are much cheaper than larger panels, were still seen as too expensive for households for what they have. So looking for ways to reduce the cost is another thing that we will be looking into. Buying in bulk from suppliers is one possible solution, but this requires capital.


This idea has been used before in other countries, such as the lights made by Sunnymoney (a social business under Solaraid) that are sold in Africa. To sell their product, Sunnymoney identifies suitable locations to conduct school campaigns to increase awareness of their product. They meet teachers to provide them with the solar lights and to teach them how to use and care for it. The teacher then takes the light to their schools to show their students and community. From there people can then order the lights. This is one way possible way we have looked at.


If anyone has any input on this it would be much appreciated! Especially anyone who’s been involved in Malawi’s ModSol project.


  • What roadblocks have been experienced with ModSol?

  • What role have partnerships/suppliers played?

  • Import or make in country?  Experiences?

  • Marketing the product

edited on 2nd July 2018, 06:07 by Wade Tink

Ira Dudley-Bestow Feb 20, 2018

The current state of the prototype is still not quite sellable. We still need to test our prototype in the current market, which we can't do because the relevant stakeholder has not given us the protection circuit yet (noting that he is under no obligation to do so).

Roadblocks: There are a number of licenses required before we can legally sell our product. (refer to the Red Tape part of

Partnerships: First and foremost, I can't emphasise enough how important it is to find and meet with as many stakeholders as possible. We found a list of potentially relevant stakeholders and pestered them til they met with us. We have received countless important bits of information about suppliers, manufacturing, as well as the technical side of things. In terms of partnerships, I recommend reading through "Scott's Powering Through 'Till July" post.

Marketing: We really haven't looked to deeply into this as of yet, but one of our stakeholders has said that he'd work on this over the off-time.

Importing: Definitely look into suppliers in country first. Getting an importers license sounds like quite a hassle and something to be considered a fair way down the track. Asking around the stakeholders got us a couple of in country suppliers.

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Wade Tink Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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