http://www.ruralelec.org/publications/call-action-roadmap-dre-sector-survive-and-flourish-wake-covid-19-crisis

Paving a Roadmap for the Decentralised Renewables Sector to Survive & Flourish in the Wake of the COVID-19 Crisis

Claudio Pedretti, President (2020-2024), ARE

African Development Bank: Catalysing Commercial Finance to Accelerate Energy Access Investments in Africa

João Duarte Cunha, Head of Division: Renewable Energy, African Development Bank Group

Access to finance remains one of the largest challenges for the growth of decentralised energy access businesses in Africa. Traditional energy investors and financiers continue to perceive the sector as risky and low-return, and plagued by immature operating models, an “unbankable” client base, complex technologies, and inconsistent policy and regulatory frameworks. As a result, financing in the sector has primarily flowed from donors and impact investors; this has been important to fuel the emergence of a new industry, but insufficient to enable the growth needed for deployments across the continent.

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The African Development Bank (the Bank), through the New Deal on Energy for Africa strategy, set the aspirational goal of achieving universal energy access in Africa by 2025. In addition to financing utility-scale interventions, the Bank is cognisant of the important role that decentralised renewable energy (DRE) solutions play in accelerating access. The Bank has launched several exciting initiatives and facilities to provide patient capital and risk mitigation instruments required to unlock commercial investments in decentralised energy at scale. I am grateful to ARE for the opportunity to highlight a few of our recent achievements in energy access.

In 2019, the Bank transformed the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) by adding a concessional investments window; refining its focus on green mini-grids, green baseload, and energy efficiency; and doubling SEFA’s capital base to USD 200 million. SEFA “2.0” is expected to contribute to the electrification of more than 7 million households by 2030. We are now processing the Fund’s first catalytic investments; notably, a results-based financing programme for mini-grids in a west African country and equity in an innovative clean cooking fund.

Last year, the Bank operationalised the Facility for Energy Inclusion (FEI), a target USD 500 million debt platform focused on small-scale sustainable energy projects. FEI consists of two ‘windows’ that function as separate investment vehicles. The main FEI window reached its first close at $150 million and is now rolling out bespoke debt solutions for green mini-grid, captive power, and small-scale grid-connected projects. The FEI Off-Grid Energy Fund (OGEF), primarily focused on solar home systems businesses, reached final close at nearly $100 million and delivered its first loan facilities in 2019, including a local currency receivables financing loan for BBOXX in Rwanda.

In collaboration with the European Commission, the Bank also launched the Distributed Energy Service Companies (DESCO) Financing Programme. The programme leverages the Bank’s risk mitigation instruments to provide much needed credit enhancement to local financial institutions, to enable affordable and long tenor loans to energy access companies. The first transactions are underway and the Bank will further refine a financing structure first tested with Zola Electric in Cote d’Ivoire.

The above are but a few highlights of the Bank’s efforts to catalyse investment in energy access. And in light of the COVID-19 crisis, DRE and clean cooking solutions are more relevant now than ever. We are actively adapting the above programmes, and assessing new facilities in collaboration with key stakeholders, to adequately respond to the emerging needs of the sector.

The Bank continues broader efforts in the energy sector, including financing for national electrification programmes, strengthening utilities, and de-risking renewable energy investment. We look forward to collaborating with ARE and the broader ecosystem to accelerate investment in Africa’s energy sector.

 

Currencies, Corona, Crisis

The “corona” could easily have been the name of a currency. It is not, but it is affecting currencies globally, nonetheless. While its impact has been exacerbated by the oil price slump, most directly felt by oil exporting countries like Nigeria, Russia and Kazakhstan, COVID-19 by itself is starting to hurt developing economies globally, with downward pressure on currencies as a result.

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The below table shows the level of percentage depreciation by currency over the period that the crisis started in earnest, from 1 March through 23 April 2020. These numbers would be shocking on a full-year basis, but this concerns barely two months. And there is fear of greater depreciations to come, as the full weight of the crisis, through the delayed spread of the virus, weakening global demand, a flight to safety and decreasing remittances, has yet to be felt.

Depreciating local currencies put stress on companies that borrowed in hard currency, as more local currency is required to service the loans. TCX Fund works with international development finance lenders to facilitate lending in local currency, driven by the premise that any business generating local currency should (be given the opportunity to) fund itself in local currency. This goes for any market, developing or developed, but the recent events once more make clear that developing market currencies are especially vulnerable to global shocks. When combined with country-specific issues, such as weak fiscal policy, over-indebtedness, political strife, or lack of economic diversification, an exogenous shock like COVID-19 can be simply too much to bear, leading to a collapse of the currency.

Often still, however, corporates choose hard currency finance over local currency because of the lure of a lower (notional, not real!) interest rate. This crisis, and the magnitude of depreciations suffered, illustrates how such thinking can backfire.

TCX is a blended-finance vehicle which can perform its risk absorption function only through the first-loss support of its German, Dutch, UK and Swiss government investors and the patient capital of a large family of development finance lenders. Over the past months, the fund has already absorbed substantial currency losses because of the crisis – losses which otherwise would have been suffered by businesses and households – and it is fully prepared to continue that role as the crisis further unfolds.

As for the off-grid sector in Africa and other emerging markets, TCX will continue its effort to contribute to a sustainably funded and high impact sector, together with its German government development partner BMU, its partners at ARE and other stakeholders in the sector.

 

Boosting Innovation for Off-Grid Access to Energy through Medium Grant Programmes

Off-grid access to renewable energy is a key component to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal n°7 and allow social and economic development in developing countries. Although project developers have several innovative ideas to address this issue, attracting financing for rural electrification projects in remote areas has often proven to be a challenge. Taking this into consideration, the French Agency for Ecological Transition (ADEME) and the French Agency for Development (AFD) launched a call for projects in 2019 to support innovative projects for energy access led by NGOs or enterprises in Africa through medium grants and a two-year technical assistance.

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80 projects proposals were received, which shows the interest of the sector in this kind of financial support. After a selection process, 10 projects have been selected for an overall budget of about EUR 6 million and an ADEME and AFD contribution of EUR 1.6 million.

This initiative follows a previous call for projects on the same topic launched by ADEME in 2017, which allowed nine project leaders to test their innovations for off-grid energy access. The first call has already brought renewable energy to many rural populations in several African countries. It has proved that many enterprises and NGOs need this type of financing, thus convincing ADEME and AFD to build on this success.

The overall objective is to implement projects that respond as closely as possible to local population’s needs and realities. Thus, the project partners are strongly rooted in the recipient countries, at the local level. In addition to the lack of energy access, project leaders deal with income disparities, lack of infrastructures and remoteness. Consequently, their innovations not only concern the production and distribution of renewable energy, but also governance issues and payment mechanisms. To name a few examples, the solutions rely on nano-grids, solar drying technologies, conservation infrastructure or digital services, with different payment options for clients. Moreover, thanks to adapted systems and equipment, the 10 selected projects allow micro-entrepreneurs to start income-generating activities and help farmers addressing food conservation and transformation issues, thus stimulating local economic development. More importantly, the projects systematically include skills transfer measures in order to ensure sustainable impacts.

Finally, ADEME and AFD selected these projects based on their large-scale deployment potential (nationwide and in neighbouring countries): thanks to this grant, projects leaders should be able to move on to the next stage and mobilize more conventional financing and scale-up their innovative projects.

For more information on the selected projects, kindly consult the latest press release.

 

De-risking C&I and Mini-Grid Investment in Frontier Markets

With an electrification rate of 42%, Sub-Saharan Africa (’SSA’) remains the region with the largest energy access deficit and is home to five of the least electrified countries [with the lowest electrification rates] in the world: Burundi (9.3%), Chad (10.9%), Malawi (12.7%), the Democratic Republic of Congo (19.1%) and Niger (20%). Socio-economic and political imperatives have driven accelerated efforts towards universal access in SSA over the last two decades, with policies initially favouring grid-centric approaches.

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Governments have experienced mixed outcomes with these approaches, for instance, the Lake Turkana Wind Project increased Kenya’s renewable energy generation to 70% of the total, but at a high fiscal and political cost due to construction delays on the transmission line. Driven in part by similar experiences, governments across the region are gravitating towards policies enabling decentralised renewable energy solutions (’DRES’) backed by private sector financing.

The DRE ecosystem in SSA is still nascent with a number of first-time mini-grid and Commercial and Industrial (C&I) developers. These developers experience difficulty in accessing sufficient and affordable financing due to real and perceived informational, technical, regulatory and financial risks. One de-risking mechanism adopted by investors is blended financial instruments to catalyse market development and mobilise commercial funding. EAV has sought to derisk by providing both equity and quasi-equity in the form of mezzanine notes as catalytic capital. The quasi-equity component is capex-focused, plugging a key financing gap and reducing strain on cash flows. With debt properties and equity functionality, quasi-equity can be classified as equity for the purposes of providing a debt/equity ratio that is attractive to commercial lenders for subsequent fundraising. This capital structure has enabled founders to avoid excessive dilution at an early stage, demonstrate initial traction and subsequently raise commercial debt competitively. Additionally, a prerequisite to the quasi-equity drawdown in the form of a credit committee approval has been stipulated enabling EAV to reduce its capital at risk and to exercise control over project quality.

EAV has also sought to transfer risk by conducting extensive due diligence on the quality of material contracts with EPCs, O&M providers, Clients (Power Purchase Agreements) and Insurers. Through these contracts, some of the technical, credit and political risks are transferred to third parties. EAV continues to play a pioneering role by investing in minigrid developers and C&I financiers in frontier markets taking on the initial risk in exchange for a strong minority stake and a sustainable impact dividend.

 

De-risking Energy Investments in the Humanitarian Sector

Humanitarian agencies recognise the need to shift their dependence from fossil fuels and transition to more sustainable approaches to generating electricity, however, systemic barriers are preventing them from doing so, which results in the continued purchase of diesel generators in energy poor locations. Recognising this, a series of workshops were convened with UN agencies and energy specialists from the private sector by the Coordination Unit of the Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement, GIZ and Shell in order to identify practical ways to unlock the impasse.

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The results from the workshops were used to co-design concrete solutions that focused on replacing existing, or planned, diesel generators with renewable or hybrid energy solutions supplied by the private sector through power purchase agreements or leasing models. Two priority activities were identified and related to the development of standard contractual terms, and a de-risking mechanism that would facilitate investment in energy projects within the humanitarian sector.

A standard set of contractual clauses for humanitarian agencies and energy service companies has been developed, with support from GIZ and Becker Büttner Held, which can be downloaded from Energypedia.  

Long-term agreements that underpin the deployment of renewable energy solutions are possible between humanitarian agencies and private sector energy providers. Long-term agreements with humanitarian agencies must, however, include a termination clause in which they may end the contract at any time. Given the upfront cost of renewable energy solutions, these termination clauses significantly increase the risk to private sector energy companies. This either discourages their participation or increases the cost of energy, making the transition to sustainable energy more costly.

Financial guarantees were identified in the workshops as a key instrument to mitigating risks, reduce costs and make it more attractive to investors and lenders. The guarantee would ensure that the residual capital costs can be recovered sin the event that the termination clause is triggered, e.g. humanitarian facilities are closed as displaced people return to their place of origin.

We are pleased to announce, with financial and technical support from Shell, that an independent consultant has been engaged to develop a de-risking tool. The standard contract clauses and de-risking tool are to be piloted later this year by the United Nations, to support the large-scale transition to sustainable energy solutions at their offices and in their operations. Further updates on progress can be tracked here.

 

http://www.ruralelec.org/business-opportunities/gaia-impact-fund

Impact Investing in a Time of Crisis

It is on the banks of Lake Cuomo, Italy that the term “impact investing” was coined at a Rockefeller Foundation meeting organised in Bellagio in 2007. Since then, thousands of conferences have been held across the world on the topic. Hundreds of reports and white papers, all opining on what impact investing should be and how impact should be measured, have been released. Dozens of impact funds have been launched. Two global crises made the world question the entanglements of its financial and economic systems. Yet, the impact universe never converged into a unified framework.

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Impact funds have been vastly instrumental in fostering the development of the energy access sector. Yet, as companies are specialising and value chains are crystallising, impact investment strategies are coming under scrutiny. Energy access is a capital-intensive sector where small basis point variations in cost of capital can have major implications on a project’s or company’s financial sustainability. In this context, some critics argue that impact investors have historically laid emphasis on quantitative deployment KPIs, shifting focus away from unit economics cost-efficiency, corporate-level profitability, and leverage ratios optimization, resulting in companies structurally unable to attract commercial capital.

At Gaia Impact Fund, we strive to prove those critics wrong. We firmly believe that energy is a key to tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities. We firmly believe that an “impact” mindset is essential to bring efficient, tailor-made support to a sector thriving at the intersection of public policies, people’s livelihoods and economic rationales. And we firmly believe that a contemporary impact investing approach, deeply rooted in best-in-class corporate financing, project financing and sector expertise, focused on material issues, is a future-proof investment strategy.

As a multi-stakeholder approach, impact investing is about catalysing change by bringing several classes of investors with several risk appetites into funding coalitions that create value for everyone. We’re seeing an ever-increasing number of high-profile transactions in energy access, most notably in the sophisticated world of layered project finance, where impact investors successfully prove their cornerstone status as catalytic equity providers.

It is also thanks to impact investors’ guidance that energy access companies have shaped into the most data intensive businesses at the bottom of the pyramid. Off-grid companies can routinely leverage an amazing variety of live customer data streams to bring cost-efficient, high-quality services tailored to each customer’s needs and situations. This has already proven a decisive competitive advantage of the energy access industry.

 

http://www.ruralelec.org/business-opportunities/engreen-solutions

Going Beyond the Sole Energy Delivery to Attract Blended Finance in Off-Grid RE Projects

Considering the urgency to accelerate the mini-grid industry’s growth, reach commercial viability and facilitate access to finance, one of the key aspect to take into account is the multi-dimensional facets of off-grid renewable energy projects in developing countries: multi-actors, multi-customer types, multi-technical solutions and multi-sources of financing.

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Thus, with a view to properly deploy effective risk reduction strategies, a comprehensive approach should be applied, paying particular attention to, among others, mitigation measures of financial risks and market risks which are crucial and should be faced in an integrated manner.

Considering that market is a major risk for rural electrification projects, as well as a success barometer (being related to the amount of electricity that is sold as well as related positive impacts), the market risks highlight the relevance of blended finance and impact investments as de-risking financial mechanisms.

According to the OECD, blended finance is the mobilisation and scaling up of commercial finance for development priorities and projects. Social impact investment, on the other hand, is the provision of finance in order to address social needs with the explicit expectation of a measurable social, as well as financial return. They can come together e.g. in impact funds with an explicit focus on mobilising private finance to be invested in impact relevant projects, with the aim of generating both financial and developmental returns.

In particular, blended finance could make a difference by deploying development resources to improve the risk-return profile of individual investments to demonstrate project viability and build markets that ultimately are able to attract further commercial capital for development.

Aligned with this approach that intuits the multi-dimension of the off-grid RE sector, opportunities arise when looking beyond the sole electricity supply: additional services, complementary value chains, innovative partnerships and horizontal integration can bridge the gap between viable and non-viable projects.

The last study developed by RES4Africa Foundation “RE-Thinking Access to Energy Business Model”, in which EnGreen was involved as overall editor, identified four business models with a view to provide viable options and de-risk investments. The study analysed access to energy business models with a focus on the productive use of electricity (PUE) and has highlighted how water-energy-food (WEF) integrated projects, can contribute both to business viability and local development which, in turn, further support the sustainability of the project, in a sort of virtuous cycle.

Off-grid RE business models identified by this study are emblematic projects able to attract funds from blended finance and impact funds thanks to the WEF nexus approach and the positive spill-overs of the PUE. In order to deploy such innovative business models with multi-utility structures, hybrid ownerships or public-private-partnerships, such financial mechanisms can support the project’s long-term sustainability, de-risk investments and increase project’s impact.

EnGreen strives to promote low-carbon technologies, climate change mitigation strategies and innovative business models to de-risk investments in development projects.

 

  • ARE Members Appoint New President & Welcome New Board Leadership

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    ARE held its first virtual Annual General Meeting on 17 March 2020 and appointed Claudio Pedretti (CEO, WindKinetic) as its new President, replacing Vivian Vendeirinho (Founder & Managing Director, RVE.SOL) who stepped down after serving two years as President and four years as a Board Member. Many thanks to Vivian Vendeirinho (RVE.SOL) and to the other leaving Board Members Aaron Leopold (AMDA), Katarina Hasbani (The August Company) and Sukla Chandra (GE Power) who have helped make ARE what it is today!

    To support its strategic objectives of building a sustainable decentralised renewable energy industry for the 21st century, activating markets for affordable energy services, and creating local jobs and inclusive economies, ARE Members also adopted the working programme with new key partners and initiatives for 2020.

    Claudio Pedretti, new ARE President in his acceptance speech stated that: “ARE plays a crucial role in the development of off-grid markets. As the newly elected President of ARE, I am proud and honoured to represent the interests of 150 Members, who altogether represent a large and very active part of our common “rural electrification” mission. In light of the off-grid’s sectors needs to foster partnerships, I am also delighted to announce that ARE has now entered into a new cooperation agreement with SACREEE to improve energy access services in Southern Africa.”

    Claudio Pedretti is the founder and CEO of WindKinetic, NexuS Energy and Clean Climate Ventures. He brings over 10 years of experience in industrial applications in demanding markets such as oil & gas, telecom, mining as well as rural electrification. His companies have worked to power off-grid electrical devices in remote settings. He will serve as ARE’s President till 2024.

    “The Alliance is delighted to welcome its new Board leadership. I trust that with the new President and two new Board of Directors - Steve Wasira (Business Development Vice President, Virunga Power) and Alexis Rehbinder (PV Project Manager, Générale du Solaire), the industry will be in a good position to upscale clean energy access.” says Marcus Wiemann, ARE Executive Director.

    [Press release]

  • SACREEE & ARE Announce New Partnership

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    In preparation of the foreseen 6th ARE Energy Access Investment Forum (Lusaka, postponed to 23-24 September 2020) a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by SACREEE and ARE to deepen collaborations in southern Africa by:

    • pursuing areas of collaboration through the identification and development of programmes and projects on matters of mutual interest;
    • developing policy recommendations for decision makers in the SADC region to create a conducive market environment;
    • supporting the dissemination and upscaling of decentralised renewable energies with a specific focus on cross-sectoral collaborations and micro- / mini-grids;
    • supporting SMEs and start-ups in the clean decentralised energy sector working across the SADC; and by
    • collaborating on key off-grid events such as EAIF Zambia.

    Kudakwashe Ndhlukula, SACREEE Executive Director confirms: “The MoU comes at a particularly exciting moment, as SACREEE has been mandated to play a key role in the implementation of the recently adopted Southern Africa Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan (REEESAP). Drawing from REEESAP, SADC Member States will develop national Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Strategies and Action Plans and thus kick-start national processes to accelerate energy transitions in the region. The Member States are progressively opting for distributed renewables to improve energy access for rural populations as well as low-income communities and peri-urban areas.”

    David Lecoque, ARE Senior Policy & Business Development Manager adds: “The MoU establishes a framework for cooperation between SACREEE and ARE, with the common objective of increasing access to modern energy services and to improve energy security across the SADC Region through the promotion of market-based uptake of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies and services.”

  • New dates: 6th ARE Energy Access Investment Forum (Lusaka, 23-24 Sep 2020)

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    ARE is excited to announce that the postponed 6th ARE Energy Access Investment Forum (EAIF) will now take place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia on 23-24 September 2020.

    EAIF is a well-established political exchange and business event organised by ARE with local and regional partners - aimed at assisting the private and public sector to get up to speed on the latest developments in the off-grid sector and do business.

    The ARE Forum is supported by our long-standing partner GET.invest, a European programme that mobilises renewable energy investments, as well as many important sponsors including the RES4Africa Foundation. The Forum will feature again GET.invest Business-to-Business (B2B) Matchmaking Session. The session will provide participants with an opportunity to connect with potential business partners, public and private investors and policymakers in a series of select personal meetings.

    The ARE Forum offers the opportunity:

    • for companies to showcase their innovative off-grid solutions, products and services to investors and partners at our exhibition;
    • for key public sector players to present their upcoming funding and de-risking programmes and policy initiatives;
    • to find your business partners and advance your projects through the B2B matchmaking session;
    • to discuss major sector trends and topics in the off-grid energy markets in Africa, where 95% of the rural population have no access to modern energy services; and
    • to add your experience and proposals to the international dialogue for cooperation.

    Interested in sponsoring? Contact: David Lecoque

    Registrations open

    Contact: Ling Ng

  • [Postponed] 12th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum - Southeast Asia

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    Co-organised by the Smart Grid Observer and ARE, the 12th Microgrid Global Innovation Forum, in Bangkok brings together thought leaders, utilities, energy providers, project managers and other stakeholders for two days of focused networking and information sharing concerning the latest technological developments, design, implementation and operation of hybrid renewable energy microgrids. The emphasis is on maximising the business case for microgrids, integration of renewable energy, and sharing real-world case studies of both grid-tied and off-grid/remote systems. [Register]

    Countries such as Thailand are making a concerted effort to service remote and off-grid locations with solar and other renewable energy resources. The time is now to move toward decarbonising the energy mix in developing regions such as Southeast Asia.

    The new dates of the event will be announced in the coming months.

    Contact: Jens Jaeger

  • New dates: Intersolar Europe: Off-Grid Power Conference (9-11 Jun 2021)

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    With the increasing spread of the coronavirus worldwide and in response to recommendations from the German federal government, the organisers have decided to postpone the trade show. BSW’s and ARE's Off-Grid Conference and Smart Renewable Systems Conference – Microgrids, originally planned to take place at Intersolar Europe are subsequently postponed, too.

    Contact: Jens Jaeger

  • ARE Call to Action: Roadmap for the DRE Sector to Survive and Flourish in the Wake of the COVID-19 Crisis

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    The global spread of COVID-19 has caused thousands of deaths and alarmed individuals, communities, businesses and society around the world. The decentralised renewable energy sector is no exception.

    The current crisis triggered by COVID-19 has put in peril both decentralised renewable energy (DRE) projects that currently power essential services to millions of people, as well as the future of the sector, endangering the achievement of not just SDG7 but all of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

    That is why the DRE sector cannot be allowed to fail.

    The question then becomes: how to move forward? What to do, so that the DRE sector not only survives the next few months, but flourishes once the crisis fades? How do we turn this crisis of dramatic proportions into an opportunity to actually achieve sustainable universal electrification by 2030?

    With this Call to Action, ARE and over 120 public, civil society and private sector Partners strive to provide an answer, by putting forward actionable recommendations for governments, funders and philanthropies to act decisively, to do their part and to make sure that this historic opportunity is grasped.

    The five recommendations are:

    1. Creation of a ‘Global DRE Relief Fund’
    2. Fast-tracking of existing procurement and funding procedures for DRE projects
    3. Pooling of resources for a 'Rural Electrification Stimulus Plan' to achieve the SDGs
    4. Recognition of DRE sector as an ‘essential service’
    5. Step up technical assistance for DRE companies
  • ARE Position Paper: Off-Grid Renewable Energies to achieve SDG-7 and SDG-13: Cheaper, Cleaner and Smarter

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    The number of people without access to modern forms of electricity still remains at a level of almost 1 billion. Access levels are unevenly distributed with especially Sub-Saharan African countries tailing behind on ambitions to reach universal access to electricity by 2030. Significantly more investments are needed to achieve SDG-7 to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all,” as well as SDG-13 to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.”

    Until now what has been missing is evidence of the potential of off-grid technologies to achieve both SDG-7 and SDG-13 in a cheaper, cleaner and smarter manner than other alternatives.

    New evidence from the GIZ, Reiner Lemoine Institute and the greenwerk. study Off-Grid Renewable Energy for Climate Action is without ambiguity: off-grid renewable energy solutions, such as clean energy mini-grids and solar home systems have significant environmental, practical, economic and socio-economic merits over grid expansion.

    Off-grid renewables are vastly superior to its competitors on three parameters:

    1. Cheaper cost of deployment
    2. Cleaner than grid extension
    3. Smarter, faster and more reliable
  • ARE Annual Report 2019

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    The ARE Annual Report 2019 highlights the work that ARE and its Members have done in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America/Caribbean last year.

    Given the increasing worldwide interest and understanding on how the actual clean energy access needs in low- and medium income countries can be tackled through international development cooperation with industry and finance sector involvement, ARE trusts that the sector perspectives for off-grid energy solutions and services are positive and will improve year to year.

    In the face of future world population growth and increasing clean energy needs in ARE target regions, the key recommendations from the 5th Energy Access Investment Forum in March 2019 offer guidance on how to tackle the following most important challenges for the off-grid industry.

    In particular, as a result of new strategic partnerships with ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), EUD Togo, GET.invest, GIZ Togo, Swedfund and UNIDO and thanks to the policy and consultancy advice given to the Africa-EU High-Level Platform for Sustainable Energy Investments in Africa (SEI Platform), African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, DG DEVCO, IEA, Intersolar, IRENA, Mini-Grid Partnership, REN21, SEforALL and the World Bank, ARE has been able to position off-grid solutions as equally important to those provided by the grid.

    With the objective to activate markets on a global and regional level, ARE organised five events mobilising 1,250 key clean energy access stakeholders and practitioners, for B2B, B2G and B2F exchanges, in low- and medium-income countries. ARE also facilitated more than 600 B2B Matchmaking meetings in 2019

    As an industry leader and in face of individual market players failing in 2019, ARE launched a campaign to re-build trust amongst development partners and financiers working in the off-grid sector. 2019 also marked a year where ARE addressed new topics such as private sector driven business models for clean energy mini-grids (CEMG) in South and Southeast Asia and digitalisation & solar in emerging markets.

Please note that views expressed in the Co-Editorial, the In Focus section and the Special Feature of the newsletter, are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect ARE’s opinion.

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