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Top Stories – November 2016 | Energy Access Practitioner Network

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Top Stories – November 2016

USAID announces $4 million to solar start-ups for African off-grid energy, recognizes UN Foundation as partner

At the 22nd session of the UN Climate conference (COP 22), Power Africa Coordinator Andrew M. Herscowitz announced $4 million in new investments to eight companies that are revolutionizing household solar power across Africa through the Scaling Off-Grid Energy: Grand Challenge for Development.  The Enterprise Awards are expected to create up to 120,000 additional connections in off-grid communities.

The Scaling Off-Grid Energy Enterprise Awards provide seed funding to solar start-ups to support geographic expansion throughout Africa, test new business models and tap into private and public financing. The new awards will enable recipients to expand home solar power solutions to existing and new African markets, improve payment and distribution processes, and bring down costs for customers.

  • Greenlight Planet (Nigeria, Uganda) (Practitioner Network member) is expanding sales of low-cost solar home solutions through state-of-the-art pay-as-you-go technology and deep distribution networks.
  • d.light (Kenya) (Practitioner Network member) is developing and expanding on software, training materials, and a call center to support a direct distribution model.
  • Fenix (Zambia) (Practitioner Network member) is expanding energy access through its expandable solar solutions kits that include options to power phones, lights, radios, televisions, and other appliances.
  • Orb Energy (Kenya) (Practitioner Network member) is establishing partnerships with banks and microfinance institutions to finance consumer solar system purchases.
  • VITALITE (Zambia) is distributing pay-as-you-go solar home systems, televisions, solar lamps, and appliances for rural, off-grid communities.
  • PEG Africa (Ghana) (Practitioner Network member) is testing new digital payment tools that will help rural customers more easily pay for their solar home systems using mobile money.
  • Shinbone Labs (Benin, Ghana) is directly selling pre-packaged, expandable, low-cost solar kits that can be remotely activated, monitored and, in the future, paid by mobile phones.
  • Village Energy (Uganda) (Practitioner Network member) is building a last-mile solar distribution and servicing network in rural Uganda by training young men and women to become technicians and retail shop managers in their communities.

USAID’s U.S Global Development Lab issued the awards as part of a competitive process through the Development Innovation Ventures program. Applications were evaluated based on three criteria: cost effectiveness relative to traditional alternatives, the plan for collecting rigorous evidence of success, and proposed pathways to scale if proven effective.

The Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge is a $36 million initiative launched by Power Africa, USAID, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and the Shell Foundation. The goal is to empower entrepreneurs and investors to achieve 20 million connections so households in sub-Saharan Africa have access to clean, modern and affordable electricity by 2030.

Last week, Microsoft, Acumen, and the UN Foundation joined the Grand Challenge for Development as aligned partners committed to leveraging their investments, capabilities, and networks. “With aligned partners like Microsoft, Acumen, and the United Nations Foundation who are investing in or supporting the off-grid solar sector, we can accelerate the growth of the household solar sector in Africa,” Herscowitz said.

The Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge for Development founding partners work together to align existing investments as well as collaborate on new efforts to address market barriers or failures in the African energy access market, and speed the introduction and growth of new, innovative products and services by enterprises and other actors.  The Grand Challenge for Development will initially focus on the household solar market, as the most immediately scalable and investment-ready segment of the off-grid market.


President Obama signs Executive Order establishing Power Africa Working Group

On November 3, US President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order that will advance the goals of his Power Africa initiative. The Executive Order is aimed at expanding access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa and establishes the Power Africa Working Group, made up of representatives from various executive branch departments and agencies of the US government. It will be co-chaired by the Coordinator for Power Africa within USAID and a member of the National Security Council (NSC) staff to be designated by the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.

According to the Executive Order, the Working Group shall serve as the multi-agency coordinating and advisory body for the government’s efforts to identify, evaluate, prioritize, and deliver assistance to energy projects across sub-Saharan Africa. The Working Group may consult with non-US government entities that participate in Power Africa as bilateral, multilateral, private sector partners, and NGOs to provide input and advice, as appropriate, regarding the implementation of Power Africa.

It will identify, prioritize, and evaluate potential Power Africa projects, regulatory and policy reforms, and programmatic focus areas, including maximizing deployment of and access to renewable energy. It will also, among other things, monitor and periodically evaluate Power Africa projects and activities to measure the effectiveness of US governmental assistance and other development finance tools in achieving Power Africa’s electricity generation and access goals, and to share lessons learned.


COP22 Features Global LEAP and Energy Access Partners

Among the activities featured at COP22 in Marrakech were those of the Clean Energy Ministerial’s (CEM’s) Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) and its partners. With the increased focus on energy access, Global LEAP plays an expanding role in achieving commitments established during and after COP21. CEM member governments of Italy, the UK, and the US, together with development partners, have invested over $39 million in Global LEAP since 2010 to catalyze the development of commercial markets for high-quality, efficient, and affordable clean energy access solutions.

An Obama administration press release announced several of Global LEAP’s most notable successes since the signing of the Paris Agreement:

  • Providing more than $11 million for the deployment of efficient off-grid technologies globally. The Efficiency for Access Coalition (E4A) raised $11.5 million in funding as part of the E4A Year of Action 2016 campaign that culminated at COP22. This funding will support the development and deployment of high-quality, energy-efficient off-grid technologies globally.
  • Bringing efficient appliances to 1000 rural Indian villages. Global LEAP and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Smart Power for Rural Development initiative announced a new partnership to accelerate the deployment and use of energy-efficient off-grid devices in rural India. The US plans to provide funding for Global LEAP to support the development and roll-out of a program to deploy energy-efficient devices such as televisions, fans, and refrigerators at selected Smart Power supported mini-grid sites. It will also develop a strategy for a program-wide scale-up targeted to reducing energy costs for some of the poorest people in India. When deployed, this program is expected to reduce energy consumption by over 50% for rural households, increase revenue for mini-grid operators by over 300% per household, and generate rural employment for people involved in distribution and supply chain management of the devices.
  • Launching the 2016–17 Global LEAP Awards for Off-Grid Televisions and Fans. The competition will identify the world’s most efficient appliances designed for use in off-grid settings, which are critical to delivering clean energy services to millions of households globally. Winners and finalists of the Global LEAP Awards will be eligible to participate in the multi-million dollar CEM Global LEAP Off-Grid Appliance Procurement Incentives Program, accelerating the uptake of these products in key off-grid markets in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Pioneering investment in the off-grid appliance market. Acumen, through its Pioneer Energy Investment Initiative, and Shell Foundation are partnering with Global LEAP to identify investment opportunities in cutting-edge off-grid appliance enterprises. Acumen and Shell Foundation will utilize the outcomes of the 2016–17 Global LEAP Awards for televisions, fans, and refrigerators as an input to its due diligence efforts to identify opportunities for impact investment in the off-grid appliance market.
  • Accelerating the off-grid clean energy market in Bangladesh. A memorandum of understanding has been signed between Global LEAP and Bangladesh’s Infrastructure Development Company Limited to develop the world’s first quality and energy performance standards for off-grid appliances. These standards will ensure that off-grid solar customers in Bangladesh have access to high-quality, reliable and affordable modern energy services.
  • Accelerating and expanding the role of energy efficiency in energy access. A new collaboration between Global LEAP, CLASP, the Copenhagen Center on Energy EfficiencyPower Africa, the World Bank, and others will provide assistance to governments, donors, industry, and other stakeholders on how best to leverage energy efficiency to deliver energy access faster, more reliably, and at the least social, environmental, and economic cost.

Enabling scale in the mini-grids sector through quality assurance. The Global LEAP initiative, Power Africa, and the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory announced the publication of a Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) for Mini-Grids. Through this partnership, Power Africa is also providing dedicated resources for associated technical assistance on the QAF in sub-Saharan Africa. The QAF aims to provide structure and transparency in the micro- and mini-grid sector based on best practices from successful utility models. It also reflects the range of service levels required to meet the needs of various segments of the off-grid consumer base by defining standard tiers of end-user service and linking them to relevant technical parameters.


ADB to Provide $500 Million to India for Solar Rooftop Systems

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is set to provide $500 million in financing for rooftop solar systems that will help the Indian government expand energy access using renewable energy.  ADB will provide the financing to Punjab National Bank – one of India’s largest commercial banks – which will use the funds to make loans to developers and end users throughout India to install rooftop solar systems.

The financing comprises $330 million from ADB as well as $170 million administered by ADB from the Clean Technology Fund, one of the financing windows of the multi-donor Climate Investment Funds. Combined with an additional $300 million in subproject equity investment and $200 million in loans from commercial banks and other financiers, the entire cost of the Solar Rooftop Investment Program is $1 billion.

The solar rooftop market is still at an early stage of development in India, and awareness of the latest technologies and the financial benefits is low. Banks see lending to such projects as risky, in part because they have limited past experiences. In this context, an additional $5 million technical assistance from the multi-donor Clean Technology Fund, administered by ADB, will be used to provide training, promote market development, and raise market awareness.

The Government of India aims to increase the amount of energy sourced from solar rooftop systems to 40 gigawatts by 2022. This is part of a wider goal under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission to increase overall solar energy generation to 100 gigawatts by the same date.

India’s Nationally Determined Contribution, the carbon emission reduction target under the 2015 Paris Agreement, is to lower the emissions intensity of the Indian economy by 33% from 2005 levels and to increase the share of non-fossil-fuel-based power generation capacity to 40% of installed power capacity by 2030. To support efforts by India and other Asian developing member countries to meet their Paris targets, ADB has also committed to doubling its annual financing for climate mitigation and adaptation to $6 billion by 2020.


Nigeria among first five beneficiaries of $3.5 billion Deutsche Bank clean energy investment

As noted last month, the Green Climate Fund approved Deutsche Bank’s proposed Universal Green Energy Access Programme, committing $78.4 million to the first phase of the investment. According to the bank’s website, the project aims to provide up to $3.5 billion worth of investment over the next 15 years to African countries, helping nearly half a million people, small and medium sized businesses gain access to clean electricity.

Nigeria, Benin, Kenya, Namibia and Tanzania are the five African countries that will benefit from the first phase of the investment. According to the bank, GCF’s anchor funding will allow Sustainable Investments, the group within Deutsche Asset Management that manages environmental and social assets, to raise a total of $300 million in capital.

The bank says it will work with and through local financial institutions in an innovative structure to enable local banks to extend medium and long-term loans in local currency or US dollars for businesses that provide clean electricity solutions. Deutsche Asset Management estimates that the fund’s 15 years of operation could lead to installation of 1,500 megawatt of renewable electricity, improved renewable energy access for 461,400 households and businesses (450,000 new solar home systems, 10,500 solar mini-grid systems and 900 solar systems for small and medium enterprises).


India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion

The Indian government and three state-run firms will jointly set up the Clean Energy Equity Fund (CEEF), a fund of up to $2 billion for renewable energy companies to help New Delhi meet its clean energy goals. Private and public companies will be able to access an initial amount of more than $1 billion starting next fiscal year. India’s government hopes the fund will attract pension and insurance funds from Canada and Europe.

Around $600 million of the initial pool will come from the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, under the finance ministry, and the rest from state entities NTPC Ltd, Rural Electrification Corp and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of raising India’s renewable energy target to 175 gigawatts by 2022, more than five times current usage, as part of the fight against climate change and to supply power to all of the country’s 1.3 billion people. The program will depend on getting as much as $175 billion in funding, with 70 percent of that likely in bank loans and the rest as equity.