Orb Energy Pte Ltd, which provides solar energy systems

June 23 [Thu], 2011, 12:06

Energy Pte Ltd, which provides solar energy systems to off-grid households, has
raised $1.1 million in equity funding from non-profit venture firm Acumen Fund.
The funding will be used by Orb to extend its household lighting systems to
rural customers and scale its manufacturing, besides developing new products.

Existing investors in Orb Energy include London-based Zouk Ventures
(which manages $100 million across two venture funds) and the Singh family, who
founded UK-based retailer New Look (and took it private with Apax and Permira in
a $1 billion deal in 2004).

Orb sells, installs and services a full
range of systems including solar photovoltaic systems for lighting and back-up
power, solar thermal for hot water, solar street lighting for security, as well
as energy-efficient lights, fans and other appliances. Over the last four years,
Orb has installed approximately 25,000 solar systems. It currently operates 90
branches across four states – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra.
The company directly markets its products and employs more than 500 people for
solar equipment sales, installation and service.Compact fluorescent light bulbs
convert a led tube considerably higher
percentage of their energy into light, which is why they are significantly more
energy efficient than traditional filament bulbs.

With this new round of
funding, Orb plans to double the number of branches and employees over the next
two years. The Bangalore and Singapore-based firm will also expand the capacity
of monthly sales and installations from 1,000 to 2,000 systems.In the case of
Cree a significant led light bulbs
amount of their LED sales come from the purchase of Cotco whose primary focus
was on moving message panels used in displays/electronic bill boards. 

India’s rural Base of the Pyramid (BoP) population includes 114 million
households, 45 per cent of which do not have reliable access to electricity and
rely on kerosene for lighting.

Several companies are trying to tap this
demand. There is d.light, backed by the likes of Omidyar Network and Mahindra
group, which provides affordable energy and lighting solutions based on solar
and LED technology.

Then, there are other players like Patna-based Husk
Power Systems that converts rice husk into electricity by using biomass
gasification technology and has mini power plants located across off-grid
areas.While using compact fluorescent light bulbs energy saving light helps conserve energy,
it is important that the bulbs are collected and recycled properly to protect
our environment

Acumen India, which has invested over $22 million in the
country since 2001, has backed companies like Kochi-based ayurvedic chain Ayur
Vaid Hospitals, Hyderabad-based LifeSpring Hospitals, Mumbai-based ambulance
start-up service Dial 1298 For Ambulance and Drishtee, a rural communications

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