Top Stories – December 2016

IFC and CLASP Announce New Partnership to Sustain Quality Standards for Consumers in Off-Grid Solar Markets

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and CLASP, an international NGO with deep expertise in the deployment of energy efficiency standards and labeling, with support from the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), announced a new partnership to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Lighting Global Quality Assurance program – an internationally recognized framework developed by IFC over the past nine years to ensure that off-grid lighting products meet consumers’ expectations for quality, affordability, and truth in advertising.

After successfully building the quality assurance program, which underpins the industry’s rapid development, IFC sought a home for the program to ensure support for the market’s development in the long term. CLASP was competitively selected to work with IFC and GOGLA to steward the program into its next phase of growth, setting standards and quality-verifying products that deliver modern energy services to those mired in energy poverty. To date, more than 100 million people have benefited from IFC’s Lighting Global quality-verified products, and this new partnership is expected to continue to improve the experience of manufacturers, consumers, and other stakeholders in the off-grid solar market.

AfDB Launches $500 Million Facility for Energy Inclusion

The Board of the African Development Bank (AfDB) recently approved a $100 million financing package to seed the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI), a $500 million pan-African renewable energy access debt fund. This investment approval is the first big step by the AfDB to deliver on its New Deal for Energy in Africa commitments for energy access through decentralized renewables.

This approval signals the formal beginning of the fundraising process for the full $500 million debt facility, which the AfDB estimates will bring energy access to three million people, approximately 600,000 households. The facility will further catalyze the private sector, globally and locally, and engage local financing institutions to significantly increase and accelerate their investment in energy access. Development finance institutions, regional and national development banks and philanthropic investors are encouraged to consider investments in this fund.

GE Africa and USADF Launch 2017 Off-Grid Energy Challenge for Women in Energy

GE Africa and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) relaunched their partnership for a 2017 Off-Grid Energy Challenge aimed at African women-owned and managed energy enterprises and innovations. Since 2013, GE has partnered with USADF to fund $5 million in awards, enabling 50 African energy entrepreneurs to power communities living beyond the grid.

The Off-Grid Energy Challenge is part of Power Africa’s Beyond the Grid initiative, which aims to drive private investment in off-grid and small-scale renewable energy solutions. The idea for 2017 is also to support technologies being developed by African women innovators and leaders who have lower access to finance than men in many African countries where energy poverty disproportionately affects women. With high rates of health-related problems from smoke and indoor pollution, women have the most to gain from renewable and affordable off-grid energy solutions.

There were 21 winners for the 2016 awards from across the continent, and their renewable technologies included solar micro-grids, solar cold storage and biogas solutions for rural communities living far from the national power grid. While the African power sector faces several power generation challenges, a sustained increase in investments such as these will go a long way to ensuring that significant progress is made in the formation of much-needed renewable energy and off-grid tools to drive economic growth. More information about the 2017 Challenge will be available soon.

 Sustainable Finance Collective Asia to offer capital and expert advice for sustainability projects in Asia

Sustainable projects in the areas of the circular economy, sustainable energy or social impact in Asia now have a new potential source of funding in the Sustainable Finance Collective (SFC) Asia.

This funding platform, launched by ING Bank at the Responsible Business Forum on Sustainable Development in Singapore, plans to offer funding to projects that meet the criteria and approval of its Funding Panel and Expert Panel. Comprised of banks Credit Suisse, FMO, and ING Bank, as well as the UNDP-UN Social Impact Fund, the Funding Panel will offer project managers a range of funding options through a single source, including debt, equity, and guarantees.

Projects applying for funding must address one of three themes: circular economy, sustainable energy, or social impact. The first two themes should require minimum funding of US$15 million, while grant applications for social impact projects start at US$5 million. Capital will be allocated on a case-by-case basis with no cap to the amount available for funding in total. SFC Asia has begun welcoming online applications via its new website.

 Uganda: Sweden Signs Shs16 Billion Energy Pact for SMEs

Sweden, though the bilateral strategy for Uganda, has signed a $4.3 million (Shs15.5 billion) funding agreement with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the Ministry of Energy for the Renewable Energy Challenge Fund that will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to innovate product and service delivery in underserved markets around Uganda, particularly in rural areas.

The UNCDF Clean Start Programme (CSP), which launched in Uganda in 2015, is co-investing $1.8 million (Shs6.3 billion) in early-stage business ideas related to financing distributed energy services, allowing five energy and financial service providers to keep innovation firmly on their agenda while building out their business for future growth.

The contribution is expected to enable at least 15 additional enterprises to grow and scale up access to affordable energy for over 150,000 households by 2020. The program will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 150,000 tons annually, while contributing to employment opportunities for women and youth.

India’s largest rooftop solar tender to see record low tariffs 
Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) has issued a tender for development of 1,000 MW rooftop solar capacity on pre-identified central government/ department owned buildings. This is the largest such tender in India’s fledgling rooftop solar market: 700 MW of capacity is proposed to be allocated under the OPEX route, where project developers will be able to fund and own the solar systems and sell power to the respective government departments under a 25-year power purchase agreement. The remaining 300 MW is proposed to be set up under the CAPEX route.

Bidding for the development will be conducted on a state-by-state basis, and all bidders will be expected to match the lowest bid for the respective states. Various departments and ministries under central government have already collectively committed to deploying close to 6,000 MW of rooftop solar capacity for their internal power consumption. SECI is thus aggregating demand for a part of this requirement and helping in procuring rooftop solar systems, and this tender provides a great opportunity for scaling up of the Indian rooftop solar market, which has a total installed capacity of only about 10% of total installed solar capacity in the country.