FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Joins with Public and Private Sector to Increase Access to Off-​​Grid Clean Energy and the Deployment of Innovative Technologies Globally

The White House Office of the Press Secretary
October 22, 2015

Pres­i­dent Obama is com­mit­ted to reduc­ing car­bon pol­lu­tion and ensur­ing that peo­ple every­where can tap into clean sources of energy to power their homes and busi­nesses.  That is why, today, the Admin­is­tra­tion is announc­ing new actions to help bring off-​​grid clean energy sys­tems and energy effi­cient appli­ances to the approx­i­mate 1.3 bil­lion peo­ple with­out energy access.  Along with other solu­tions, like grid exten­sion and new energy gen­er­a­tion sup­ply invest­ments, off-​​grid energy sys­tems hold tremen­dous promise to speed the deliv­ery of afford­able mod­ern energy ser­vices. Improv­ing access to renew­able energy solu­tions has direct pos­i­tive effects on edu­ca­tion and eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties, while also reduc­ing fam­i­lies’ expo­sure to pol­lu­tion, pro­vid­ing clean water access, and empow­er­ing farm­ers and fam­i­lies by pro­vid­ing them with the tech­nol­ogy they need to stay con­nected and learn.  Com­ing just a month before the Paris nego­ti­a­tions, these actions under­score our com­mit­ment to ensur­ing all coun­tries have the oppor­tu­nity to power eco­nomic growth based on clean, sus­tain­able energy solutions.

To bring the promise of clean energy to more house­holds, the United States, Benin, Bangladesh, and Kenya are tak­ing the fol­low­ing actions:

  • The Depart­ment of Energy (DOE) is announc­ing the launch of the next round of the Global Light­ing and Energy Access Part­ner­ship (Global LEAP) Awards com­pe­ti­tion focused on iden­ti­fy­ing and pro­mot­ing super-​​efficient, high qual­ity off-​​grid fans and televisions.
  • The U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment (USAID) is announc­ing a new $75 mil­lion loan guar­an­tee through the Power Africa pro­gram to scale-​​up off-​​grid energy invest­ments across sub-​​Saharan Africa.
  • The Over­seas Pri­vate Invest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (OPIC) is announc­ing more than $20 mil­lion in loans to pro­mote solar energy in 90,000 house­holds in Kenya and Nigeria
  • The Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Cor­po­ra­tion (MCC) is pro­vid­ing $46 mil­lion for off-​​grid elec­tri­fi­ca­tion in Benin.
  • The Gov­ern­ments of Benin, Bangladesh, and Kenya are tak­ing steps to increase access to off-​​grid energy effi­cient prod­ucts, which will be pow­ered by clean energy, and develop stan­dards to ensure the qual­ity of off-​​grid appliances.

Nine­teen com­pa­nies and orga­ni­za­tions also are announc­ing new inde­pen­dent com­mit­ments to take a strong step for­ward toward a low-​​carbon, sus­tain­able future. These com­mit­ments include:

  • New fund­ing total­ing over $125 mil­lion to finance clean energy projects, such as the deploy­ment of high effi­ciency solar equip­ment to reach mil­lions of low-​​income cus­tomers in Sub-​​Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • Advanc­ing the deploy­ment of over 170 mil­lion new off-​​grid, energy-​​efficient, stand­alone and scal­able products.

In total, the com­mit­ments made today will:

  • Pro­vide access to off-​​grid clean energy prod­ucts and ser­vices to more than 500 mil­lion peo­ple by 2020, chang­ing people’s lives and livelihoods.
  • Pre­vent the equiv­a­lent of over 350 mil­lion met­ric tons of CO2 emis­sions over the life­time of the prod­ucts deployed by 2020, includ­ing sig­nif­i­cantly cut­ting black car­bon emis­sions, equiv­a­lent to tak­ing nearly 80 mil­lion cars off the road for a year.

Today’s announce­ments build on Pres­i­dent Obama’s com­mit­ment in Sep­tem­ber to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment and achieve the U.N. Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals, includ­ing the goal to ensure access to afford­able, reli­able, sus­tain­able, and mod­ern energy for all by 2030.  Our work to cat­alyze the mar­ket for off-​​grid energy access reaf­firms that sup­port­ing devel­op­ment is not char­ity, but instead one of the smartest invest­ments we can make in our own future – that by help­ing fam­i­lies and entre­pre­neurs in Asia and Africa and other parts of the world, we will help the entire global economy.

Under the lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent Obama, devel­op­ment and deploy­ment off-​​grid prod­ucts has grown rapidly, in part due to fed­eral pro­grams, such as the Global LEAP Awards and the Sus­tain­able Energy for All (SE4ALL) ini­tia­tive. Since 2009, the cumu­la­tive sales of small-​​scale solar prod­ucts in Africa has grown from 40,000 to nearly 7.5 mil­lion in 2014. Sim­i­larly, the cost of LED-​​based solar prod­ucts declined 70 per­cent between 2011 and 2014. As a result, solar lanterns and an increas­ingly diverse suite of other off-​​grid prod­ucts already serve over 50 mil­lion cus­tomers glob­ally. How­ever, there is a need to do more. Pro­vid­ing climate-​​friendly, low-​​cost energy access to grow­ing economies requires con­tri­bu­tions from all sec­tors, includ­ing devel­oped and devel­op­ing coun­tries, indus­try, finan­cial insti­tu­tions, and civil soci­ety. Today’s announce­ments mark impor­tant progress toward reduc­ing the dri­vers of cli­mate change and pro­vid­ing low-​​cost, mod­ern energy access globally.

U.S. Actions To Increase Access To Clean Energy

The Obama Admin­is­tra­tion is com­mit­ted to expand­ing its lead­er­ship in pro­vid­ing effi­cient, off-​​grid energy access. Today, the Admin­is­tra­tion is mak­ing the fol­low­ing announcements:

Depart­ment of Energy

DOE is mak­ing five new announce­ments as part of the Global LEAP program:

  • Launch­ing a Global LEAP Results-​​Based Financ­ing ini­tia­tive to pro­vide incen­tives to accel­er­ate the global off-​​grid appli­ance mar­ket, in part­ner­ship with Ener­gis­ing Devel­op­ment, the Inter­na­tional Finance Cor­po­ra­tion, and CLASP;
  • Cre­at­ing Global LEAP Off-​​Grid Appli­ance Plat­form, an inter­ac­tive appli­ance data plat­form with infor­ma­tion on off-​​grid appli­ances and prod­uct test­ing in part­ner­ship with Cli­mate­Works Foun­da­tion, CLASP, and a net­work of indus­try and tech­ni­cal partners;
  • Releas­ing a Global LEAP Mini-​​Grids Qual­ity Assur­ance frame­work to address qual­ity assur­ance and flex­i­ble stan­dards to sup­port deploy­ment of mini-​​grids at scale;
  • Estab­lish­ing an Effi­ciency for Access Coali­tion, a new part­ner­ship led by Global LEAP in col­lab­o­ra­tion with SE4All to enable uni­ver­sal access to enhanced energy ser­vices beyond basic light­ing by 2030; and
  • Issu­ing a new round of Global LEAP Awards with 33 new fans and tele­vi­sions, includ­ing com­mit­ments from the fol­low­ing 11 devel­op­ers to sub­mit inno­v­a­tive prod­ucts to the 2015–2016 Global LEAP Awards com­pe­ti­tion: Bare­foot Power, BBOXX, d.light Design, fos­era, Maks Renew­able Energy Co., NIWA, Omni­voltaic Power Co.,Sola Home Appli­ances, Sola­geo, Super Star Group, and Super­fan.

In addi­tion, 19 new pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor enti­ties today are endors­ing the Global LEAP Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples, which encour­age gov­ern­ments, foun­da­tions, non-​​profits, and for-​​profit firms to work together to scale-​​up com­mer­cial mar­kets for low-​​cost qual­ity assured off-​​grid devices.  Those endors­ing the Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples include: Solaric, Packard Foun­da­tion, d.light, Green­light Planet, All Power Labs, Bare­foot Power, BBOXX, fos­era, Maks Renew­able Energy, Off-​​Grid Elec­tric, Simu­so­lar, Social Invest­ment Man­agers and Advi­sors (SIMA), Spark­Me­ter, Sun Frost, SunEdi­son, Super­fan, DBL Part­ners, Fac­tor Even­tures, FINCA, Shell Foun­da­tion, Bangladesh – Infra­struc­ture Devel­op­ment Com­pany Lim­ited (IDCOL), and UNEP.

Over­seas Pri­vate Invest­ment Corporation

OPIC is announc­ing two recently final­ized invest­ments in off-​​grid energy access:

  • A $6.8 mil­lion loan com­mit­ment to Clover­field Energy Ser­vices Ltd. for the devel­op­ment, con­struc­tion and oper­a­tion of approx­i­mately 100 solar-​​powered micro-​​grids reach­ing an esti­mated 20,000 house­holds and com­mer­cial users in Kenya.  The “Clover­field Project” was devel­oped by Powerhive
  • A $15 mil­lion loan com­mit­ment to Nova-​​Lumos’ Niger­ian sub­sidiary Txt­light Power Solu­tions Lim­ited to finance the deploy­ment of rooftop solar panel kits to approx­i­mately 70,000 res­i­den­tial and small com­mer­cial cus­tomers in Nige­ria using a lease-​​to-​​own model.

U.S. Agency for Inter­na­tional Development

USAID is announc­ing a new $75 mil­lion “Beyond the Grid” DCA Loan Port­fo­lio Guar­an­tee through the Power Africa pro­gram.  The “first mover” facil­ity pro­vides com­mer­cial lenders and investors with incen­tive to scale-​​up off-​​grid energy invest­ments across sub-​​Saharan Africa.  Loans par­tially backed by this guar­an­tee will sup­port pro­duc­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers, and dis­trib­u­tors of off-​​grid and small-​​scale sys­tems, help­ing move the sec­tor beyond give­aways, grants, and con­ces­sion­ary cap­i­tal and toward a more finan­cially sus­tain­able path.  Power Africa, through USAID, also recently awarded a first-​​loss tranche of cap­i­tal to cat­alyze addi­tional pri­vate invest­ment in Cross­Bound­ary Energy, a fund that pools cap­i­tal for invest­ment in solar energy assets that will serve cap­tive com­mer­cial enter­prises in sub-​​Saharan Africa.  USAID finan­cial sup­port and tech­ni­cal assis­tance – matched at a tar­get 5:1 ratio by pri­vate fund­ing – will cat­alyze investor par­tic­i­pa­tion and strengthen CrossBoundary’s pipeline of dis­trib­uted solar projects across the continent.

Mil­len­nium Chal­lenge Corporation

MCC is pro­vid­ing $46 mil­lion for off-​​grid elec­tri­fi­ca­tion in Benin, the largest off-​​grid elec­tri­fi­ca­tion pro­gram the United States has under­taken glob­ally in any sin­gle coun­try, as part of its $375 mil­lion Com­pact focused on elec­tric power.  MCC will increase access to elec­tric­ity by sup­port­ing pub­lic poli­cies and reg­u­la­tion that enable off-​​grid elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, as well as financ­ing for pri­vate sector-​​led clean energy solu­tions with a focus on mini-​​grids, solar energy devices for house­holds, ded­i­cated power to ensure con­ti­nu­ity of oper­a­tions for crit­i­cal pub­lic infra­struc­ture, and energy effi­cient mea­sures for house­holds, pri­vate indus­try, and the pub­lic sector.

For­eign Gov­ern­ment Actions To Increase Access To Clean Energy

The Repub­lic of Benin

The Repub­lic of Benin is announc­ing its new “Light for all” pro­gram, which aims to pro­vide access to basic power capac­ity to all fam­i­lies in Benin.  The pro­gram, with an esti­mated bud­get of $70 mil­lion would bring the entire coun­try out of dark­ness, through ensur­ing all fam­i­lies gain access to pico-​​solar devices. Over the long-​​term, larger-​​capacity domes­tic solar power sys­tems will be deployed.

Sus­tain­able and Renew­able Energy Devel­op­ment Author­ity (SREDA) of the Power Divi­sion, Min­istry of Power, Energy and Min­eral Resources of Bangladesh and Infra­struc­ture Devel­op­ment Com­pany Lim­ited (IDCOL) SREDA and IDCOL are announc­ing (1) IDCOL will col­lab­o­rate with the Global LEAP ini­tia­tive to develop the world’s first qual­ity and effi­ciency stan­dards for off-​​grid-​​compatible tele­vi­sions and fans; (2) SREDA will develop and imple­ment energy effi­ciency stan­dards and label­ing poli­cies for world class appli­ances; and (3) together IDCOL and SREDA will imple­ment poli­cies that encour­age the rapid growth for high-​​quality, energy effi­cient appli­ances in Bangladesh, such as favor­able import duties and value-​​added tax for quality-​​assured, super-​​efficient appliances.

The Repub­lic of Kenya

The Repub­lic of Kenya has been a leader in the deploy­ment of off-​​grid solar power sys­tems for rural elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, with robust mar­ket activ­i­ties dat­ing back to the 1980s.  The strength of the Kenya off-​​grid solar mar­ket can be attrib­uted to dynamic pri­vate sec­tor activ­ity along with pro­duc­tive pub­lic pol­icy deci­sions.  The Gov­ern­ment of Kenya is com­mit­ted to prod­uct qual­ity assur­ance and pro­tect­ing the inter­ests of its cit­i­zens in accor­dance with inter­na­tion­ally accepted protocols. 

Pri­vate Sec­tor Lead­er­ship To Improve Access To Clean Energy Sources

The inde­pen­dent com­mit­ments announced today span a wide range of off-​​grid energy mar­ket devel­op­ers. Man­u­fac­tur­ers, investors, foun­da­tions, and NGOs all are announc­ing sig­nif­i­cant com­mit­ments to increase invest­ment, pro­vide sup­port, and develop prod­ucts for the long-​​term suc­cess of quality-​​assured, energy-​​efficient off-​​grid clean energy tech­nolo­gies. Today, in sup­port of the UN Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals to achieve uni­ver­sal energy access for all by 2030, 13 com­pa­nies, all of which are sup­port­ers of the Global LEAP Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples, are tak­ing new steps to pro­vide access to off-​​grid clean energy prod­ucts and ser­vices to more than 500 mil­lion peo­ple by 2020. In addi­tion to endors­ing the Guid­ing Prin­ci­ples, these com­pa­nies are announc­ing the following:

DBL Part­ners com­mits to expand its dou­ble bot­tom line invest­ment approach to inter­na­tional com­pa­nies with a $10.5 mil­lion investment.

Solaric, a U.S.–Bangladesh joint ven­ture and devel­oper of super-​​efficient nano-​​grids, con­vert­ers, and off-​​grid appli­ances, is announc­ing a com­mit­ment to cover three con­ti­nents, 10 coun­tries, and pro­vide energy to 500,000 peo­ple world­wide by 2020 using both their nano-​​grid and 3G-​​solar home system.

Packard Foun­da­tion, as a part of its com­mit­ment to pro­tect and restore the earth, is announc­ing, sub­ject to fund­ing con­di­tions, $15 mil­lion toward clean energy access program-​​related invest­ments in emerg­ing mar­kets around the world. These invest­ments in dis­trib­uted solar for pop­u­la­tions liv­ing beyond the grid through Simpa Net­works, Sun­Fun­der, and Off-​​Grid Elec­tric assist in pro­vid­ing clean elec­tric­ity for low-​​income com­mu­ni­ties and con­sti­tute a por­tion of a larger com­mit­ment to increase cli­mate and energy invest­ments.  Ulti­mately, these invest­ments address both the urgency of mit­i­gat­ing cli­mate change and achiev­ing life-​​changing devel­op­ment outcomes.

Green­light Planet is announc­ing the 2016 release of a “pay-​​as-​​you-​​go” solar home sys­tem along with a new afford­able solar lantern, fur­ther widen­ing Greenlight’s range of globally-​​available off-​​grid energy solu­tions from a portable solar-​​powered lantern, all the way up to com­plete fixed solar home systems.

d.light has com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing afford­able solar pow­ered solu­tions to an esti­mated 100 mil­lion peo­ple, in addi­tion to the 50 mil­lion peo­ple they have already impacted to date. d.light is able to make this com­mit­ment in part due to their launch of a new afford­able qual­ity solar light,  which will help make solar afford­able to tens of mil­lions of people.

Off-​​Grid Elec­tric (OGE), a dis­trib­uted renew­able energy com­pany, is announc­ing the launch of their sec­ond mar­ket in Rwanda, and that they are exceed­ing 10,000 house­hold instal­la­tions per month.

To read the full press release, visit The White House Office of the Press Sec­re­tary.