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Rive Brothers Join Solar+Storage Firm to Help Africa ‘Leapfrog the Electric Grid’

SolarCity co-founders Lyndon and Peter Rive, cousins of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, are signing on with ZOLA Electric, a Silicon Valley effort to bring off-grid, pay-as-you-go solar+storage systems to Africa.

Lyndon Rive becomes chair of the ZOLA board, while Peter Rive will serve as operational and technical advisor, CleanTechnica reports. Peter Rive described Africa as a place where “there is a unique opportunity to bypass traditional infrastructure approaches by building a distributed grid”.

“After witnessing and investing in ZOLA Electric’s impressive growth for many years now, I’m eager to play a bigger role as the company continues to democratize renewable energy globally,” Lyndon Rive wrote in a ZOLA blog post. “ZOLA’s business model and technology platform will enable countries around the world to leapfrog the electric grid.”

The company has already raised more than US$100 million in venture capital from a variety of sources, including DBL Ventures, Omidyar Network, Helio Partners, EDF, and Total.

“ZOLA Electric is singularly focused on leveraging low-cost solar and batteries to improve energy access in off-grid communities in Africa, replacing dangerous kerosene along the way,” CleanTechnica explains. “The company’s systems will provide light, cell phone charging, small fans, and radios. The team is also working to scale up their systems to support increasingly larger loads in the future.”

As for the Rive brothers, “their addition to the team at ZOLA Electric is a part of a much larger restructuring of the leadership of the company that includes a splitting off of the dual CEOs that had been leading the company up until now,” the publication adds. “Moving forward, Bill Lenihan will lead the company, and his former co-CEO Xavier Helgesen will take on the role of president and chief technical officer at ZOLA.” “As SolarCity, and now Tesla, have been longtime supporters of ZOLA and investors since our early days, we are thrilled to have Lyndon and Peter join our ranks,” Lenihan said. “They share our vision for ZOLA and passion for holistically solving the energy access problem worldwide. With guidance from Lyndon and Peter, we aim to emulate the growth and success of SolarCity and Tesla Energy by building the right framework to scale and deliver our ambitious energy access goals, on time and on target.”