Brussels, 11 June 2014 - The United Nations launched the “UN Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024)” during its first annual Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Forum held at United Nations Headquarters in New York on 4-6 June 2014. Together with leading international organisations from the public and private sector, the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) set up the High Impact Initiative (HIO) on Clean Energy Mini-grids to effectively contribute to SEforALL targets on achieving universal energy access and the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, all by 2030.

Recently, mini-grids have received a lot of attention by donors and practitioners as it is considered to be an important technology to leverage energy access. An increasing number of leading organisations have agreed to participate in the HIO to collaborate on identified barriers, which are:

1. Inadequate regulation, policy gaps or uncertainty

2. Early stage market fragmentation and unmade linkages

3. Capacity issues and lack of standardisation

4. Lack of proven commercial business models

5. Lack of access to affordable longer term finance

The HIO members include African Development Bank (AfDB), Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), EU Energy Initiative Policy Dialogue Facility (EUEI PDF), International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Practical Action, Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), SEforALL Global Facilitation Team (GFT), UK Department for International Development (DFID), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Foundation Energy Access Practitioner Network (UNF EAPN), USAID, US Department of Energy (DOE) and the World Bank.

To assist in the coordination of the HIO and to better link public and private sector, the UNF and ARE will form a secretariat. With this activity, ARE seeks to further position itself as the private sector reference for mini-grids on a global level.

Marcus Wiemann Secretary General of ARE, said: “The Alliance is a fully committed partner organisation for SEforALL. We believe the High Impact Initiative (HIO) on Clean Energy Mini-grids is necessary to achieve clean energy access in developing and emerging markets and will certainly contribute to an increased level of cooperation between the public and private sector. We are delighted to witness an increasing interest from the private sector and invite private companies to engage in our mission.”

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Ling Ng Communications and Marketing Officer

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Note to the editor

The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE) is an international business association focusing on the promotion and the development of off-grid stand-alone and mini-grid renewable energy solutions for rural electrification in developing countries. Amongst other actors, ARE represents private and non-profit clean mini-grid researchers, designers, constructors and operators/maintainers as well as mini-grid equipment providers and manufacturers. Members have significant experience in developing clean-mini-grid projects, including capacity building, trainings and/or technical assistance. ARE objectives include sharing best practices on technical, financial and regulatory aspects and stimulating sector development.

Clean Energy Mini-Grids – mini- and micro-grids are village, town or district scale electrical distribution networks either unconnected to, or able to operate autonomously from, the main electrical grid. Clean Energy Mini-Grids are mini-grids, which are powered by either renewable energy, or a hybrid of renewable energy and fossil fuel generation.2 Mini-grids can be delivered and managed in different models, including by utilities, through private actors (“mini-utilities”), or a combination of both. “Mini-utilities” can be formed by private or community-based (e.g. co-operative) developers and operators, in partnership with governmental and community institutions.