Reading company bids to bring green energy to AfricaBy David Millward
January 10, 2013
A green energy company based in Central Reading has struck a deal with a Tanzanian firm to find a solution to power supply problems in the African country.
Jonathan Bates, the founding director and general manager of Photon Energy, recently travelled to Africa to set up the joint venture with Comfix Engineering Ltd.
The two businesses hope to strike deals with organisations such as housing developers, businesses, schools and hospitals across the country.
Mr Bates, whose company is based in Soane Point, Market Place, said: “People in Tanzania face frequent power outages which they cope with by switching on diesel generators, but these are smelly, noisy and expensive to run and it’s a very big problem.
“Instead, we want to deliver a valuable service – solar arrays that power banks of batteries that can continue to provide electricity much more cheaply until the mains power returns.
“The sunny weather conditions in Africa and the plunging costs of the technology have now made solar power a genuine option.
“I’m a firm believer in trade not aid and this is an excellent way to do business with communities on an equal footing.”
Mr Bates worked for IT Power, a global adviser in sustainable energy and climate change, before launching Photon Energy in 2006.
His business has installed solar panels and wind turbines for customers such as farms, housing associations, house-builders and other businesses around the UK.
Mr Bates said of his latest venture: “It’s a business opportunity, but it’s also motivated by an interest in the intractable problems caused by the unreliable power supply in Africa.
“We’re delighted to be working with Comfix Engineering on this venture and it demonstrates the scope of what Photon Energy is capable of doing.”
The company also plans to work with the WAMA Foundation which aims to give women and girls better access to education, health services, family planning and economic opportunities in Tanzania.
Photon Energy employs 25 people, including 16 at its headquarters in Market Place, and it installed more than 3MW of solar panels in 2012, which is enough for around 1,500 homes.