Last week was a huge week for private and public investment in the off-grid clean energy sector. The off-grid sector continues to grow, offering affordable, reliable energy services to unelectrified and under-electrified populations around the world. Access to off-grid lighting and appliances can have transformative life-changing impacts, opening the door to numerous socioeconomic and health benefits.
Among the notable announcements from last week was the White House’sannouncement of U.S. Government support for off-grid clean energy, as well as independent commitments from 19 companies and organizations. Together, the commitments will “… provide access to off-grid clean energy products and services to more than 500 million people by 2020.” To put that number in perspective, an estimated 1.3 billion people globally lack access to modern electricity, and many more have only limited or unreliable access. This commitment from the U.S. Government and companies and organizations could serve more than a third of the people lacking electricity access worldwide.
The package of announcements from the White House includes the following in terms of public financing:
- A75 million loan guarantee from USAID’s Power Africa program to scale up off-grid renewable investments in sub-Saharan Africa;
- More than20 million in loans from the Overseas Private Investment Corporationfor supporting residential solar in Kenya and Nigeria; and
- $46 million from the Millennium Challenge Corporation to off-grid electrification in Benin.
The Department of Energy will also be launching the next round of Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) Awards. These awards recognize super-efficient off-grid appliances such as fans and televisions, which allow modest amounts of energy to provide a greater range of services than was previously possible. The Department of Energy is also making four additional announcements related to Global LEAP, including establishment of a mini-grids quality assurance framework and an interactive appliance data platform.
In addition to this public financing, the independent private commitments from 19 companies and organizations amount to $125 million in new financing for off-grid energy in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These independent commitments included $15 million from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to SunFunder, Simpa Networks, and Off-Grid Electric, and $25 million from DBL Partners and SolarCity into Off-Grid Electric in a Series C round.
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