FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Joins with Public and Private Sector to Increase Access to Off-Grid Clean Energy and the Deployment of Innovative Technologies Globally
President Obama is committed to reducing carbon pollution and ensuring that people everywhere can tap into clean sources of energy to power their homes and businesses. That is why, today, the Administration is announcing new actions to help bring off-grid clean energy systems and energy efficient appliances to the approximate 1.3 billion people without energy access. Along with other solutions, like grid extension and new energy generation supply investments, off-grid energy systems hold tremendous promise to speed the delivery of affordable modern energy services. Improving access to renewable energy solutions has direct positive effects on education and economic opportunities, while also reducing families’ exposure to pollution, providing clean water access, and empowering farmers and families by providing them with the technology they need to stay connected and learn. Coming just a month before the Paris negotiations, these actions underscore our commitment to ensuring all countries have the opportunity to power economic growth based on clean, sustainable energy solutions.
To bring the promise of clean energy to more households, the United States, Benin, Bangladesh, and Kenya are taking the following actions:
- The Department of Energy (DOE) is announcing the launch of the next round of the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP) Awards competition focused on identifying and promoting super-efficient, high quality off-grid fans and televisions.
- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is announcing a new $75 million loan guarantee through the Power Africa program to scale-up off-grid energy investments across sub-Saharan Africa.
- The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is announcing more than $20 million in loans to promote solar energy in 90,000 households in Kenya and Nigeria
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is providing $46 million for off-grid electrification in Benin.
- The Governments of Benin, Bangladesh, and Kenya are taking steps to increase access to off-grid energy efficient products, which will be powered by clean energy, and develop standards to ensure the quality of off-grid appliances.
Nineteen companies and organizations also are announcing new independent commitments to take a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future. These commitments include:
- New funding totaling over $125 million to finance clean energy projects, such as the deployment of high efficiency solar equipment to reach millions of low-income customers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
- Advancing the deployment of over 170 million new off-grid, energy-efficient, standalone and scalable products.
In total, the commitments made today will:
- Provide access to off-grid clean energy products and services to more than 500 million people by 2020, changing people’s lives and livelihoods.
- Prevent the equivalent of over 350 million metric tons of CO2 emissions over the lifetime of the products deployed by 2020, including significantly cutting black carbon emissions, equivalent to taking nearly 80 million cars off the road for a year.
Today’s announcements build on President Obama’s commitment in September to adopt the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, including the goal to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030. Our work to catalyze the market for off-grid energy access reaffirms that supporting development is not charity, but instead one of the smartest investments we can make in our own future – that by helping families and entrepreneurs in Asia and Africa and other parts of the world, we will help the entire global economy.
Under the leadership of President Obama, development and deployment off-grid products has grown rapidly, in part due to federal programs, such as the Global LEAP Awards and the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative. Since 2009, the cumulative sales of small-scale solar products in Africa has grown from 40,000 to nearly 7.5 million in 2014. Similarly, the cost of LED-based solar products declined 70 percent between 2011 and 2014. As a result, solar lanterns and an increasingly diverse suite of other off-grid products already serve over 50 million customers globally. However, there is a need to do more. Providing climate-friendly, low-cost energy access to growing economies requires contributions from all sectors, including developed and developing countries, industry, financial institutions, and civil society. Today’s announcements mark important progress toward reducing the drivers of climate change and providing low-cost, modern energy access globally.
U.S. Actions To Increase Access To Clean Energy
The Obama Administration is committed to expanding its leadership in providing efficient, off-grid energy access. Today, the Administration is making the following announcements:
Department of Energy
DOE is making five new announcements as part of the Global LEAP program:
- Launching a Global LEAP Results-Based Financing initiative to provide incentives to accelerate the global off-grid appliance market, in partnership with Energising Development, the International Finance Corporation, and CLASP;
- Creating Global LEAP Off-Grid Appliance Platform, an interactive appliance data platform with information on off-grid appliances and product testing in partnership with ClimateWorks Foundation, CLASP, and a network of industry and technical partners;
- Releasing a Global LEAP Mini-Grids Quality Assurance framework to address quality assurance and flexible standards to support deployment of mini-grids at scale;
- Establishing an Efficiency for Access Coalition, a new partnership led by Global LEAP in collaboration with SE4All to enable universal access to enhanced energy services beyond basic lighting by 2030; and
- Issuing a new round of Global LEAP Awards with 33 new fans and televisions, including commitments from the following 11 developers to submit innovative products to the 2015-2016 Global LEAP Awards competition: Barefoot Power, BBOXX, d.light Design, fosera, Maks Renewable Energy Co., NIWA, Omnivoltaic Power Co., Sola Home Appliances, Solageo, Super Star Group, and Superfan.
In addition, 19 new public and private sector entities today are endorsing the Global LEAP Guiding Principles, which encourage governments, foundations, non-profits, and for-profit firms to work together to scale-up commercial markets for low-cost quality assured off-grid devices. Those endorsing the Guiding Principles include: Solaric, Packard Foundation, d.light, Greenlight Planet, All Power Labs, Barefoot Power, BBOXX, fosera, Maks Renewable Energy, Off-Grid Electric, Simusolar, Social Investment Managers and Advisors (SIMA), SparkMeter, Sun Frost, SunEdison, Superfan, DBL Partners, Factor Eventures, FINCA, Shell Foundation, Bangladesh – Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL), and UNEP.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation
OPIC is announcing two recently finalized investments in off-grid energy access:
- A $6.8 million loan commitment to Cloverfield Energy Services Ltd. for the development, construction and operation of approximately 100 solar-powered micro-grids reaching an estimated 20,000 households and commercial users in Kenya. The “Cloverfield Project” was developed by Powerhive
- A $15 million loan commitment to Nova-Lumos’ Nigerian subsidiary Txtlight Power Solutions Limited to finance the deployment of rooftop solar panel kits to approximately 70,000 residential and small commercial customers in Nigeria using a lease-to-own model.
U.S. Agency for International Development
USAID is announcing a new $75 million “Beyond the Grid” DCA Loan Portfolio Guarantee through the Power Africa program. The “first mover” facility provides commercial lenders and investors with incentive to scale-up off-grid energy investments across sub-Saharan Africa. Loans partially backed by this guarantee will support producers, manufacturers, and distributors of off-grid and small-scale systems, helping move the sector beyond giveaways, grants, and concessionary capital and toward a more financially sustainable path. Power Africa, through USAID, also recently awarded a first-loss tranche of capital to catalyze additional private investment in CrossBoundary Energy, a fund that pools capital for investment in solar energy assets that will serve captive commercial enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa. USAID financial support and technical assistance – matched at a target 5:1 ratio by private funding – will catalyze investor participation and strengthen CrossBoundary’s pipeline of distributed solar projects across the continent.
Millennium Challenge Corporation
MCC is providing $46 million for off-grid electrification in Benin, the largest off-grid electrification program the United States has undertaken globally in any single country, as part of its $375 million Compact focused on electric power. MCC will increase access to electricity by supporting public policies and regulation that enable off-grid electrification, as well as financing for private sector-led clean energy solutions with a focus on mini-grids, solar energy devices for households, dedicated power to ensure continuity of operations for critical public infrastructure, and energy efficient measures for households, private industry, and the public sector.
Foreign Government Actions To Increase Access To Clean Energy
The Republic of Benin
The Republic of Benin is announcing its new “Light for all” program, which aims to provide access to basic power capacity to all families in Benin. The program, with an estimated budget of $70 million would bring the entire country out of darkness, through ensuring all families gain access to pico-solar devices. Over the long-term, larger-capacity domestic solar power systems will be deployed.
Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority (SREDA) of the Power Division, Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources of Bangladesh and Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) SREDA and IDCOL are announcing (1) IDCOL will collaborate with the Global LEAP initiative to develop the world’s first quality and efficiency standards for off-grid-compatible televisions and fans; (2) SREDA will develop and implement energy efficiency standards and labeling policies for world class appliances; and (3) together IDCOL and SREDA will implement policies that encourage the rapid growth for high-quality, energy efficient appliances in Bangladesh, such as favorable import duties and value-added tax for quality-assured, super-efficient appliances.
The Republic of Kenya
The Republic of Kenya has been a leader in the deployment of off-grid solar power systems for rural electrification, with robust market activities dating back to the 1980s. The strength of the Kenya off-grid solar market can be attributed to dynamic private sector activity along with productive public policy decisions. The Government of Kenya is committed to product quality assurance and protecting the interests of its citizens in accordance with internationally accepted protocols.
Private Sector Leadership To Improve Access To Clean Energy Sources
The independent commitments announced today span a wide range of off-grid energy market developers. Manufacturers, investors, foundations, and NGOs all are announcing significant commitments to increase investment, provide support, and develop products for the long-term success of quality-assured, energy-efficient off-grid clean energy technologies. Today, in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to achieve universal energy access for all by 2030, 13 companies, all of which are supporters of the Global LEAP Guiding Principles, are taking new steps to provide access to off-grid clean energy products and services to more than 500 million people by 2020. In addition to endorsing the Guiding Principles, these companies are announcing the following:
DBL Partners commits to expand its double bottom line investment approach to international companies with a $10.5 million investment.
Solaric, a U.S.–Bangladesh joint venture and developer of super-efficient nano-grids, converters, and off-grid appliances, is announcing a commitment to cover three continents, 10 countries, and provide energy to 500,000 people worldwide by 2020 using both their nano-grid and 3G-solar home system.
Packard Foundation, as a part of its commitment to protect and restore the earth, is announcing, subject to funding conditions, $15 million toward clean energy access program-related investments in emerging markets around the world. These investments in distributed solar for populations living beyond the grid through Simpa Networks, SunFunder, and Off-Grid Electric assist in providing clean electricity for low-income communities and constitute a portion of a larger commitment to increase climate and energy investments. Ultimately, these investments address both the urgency of mitigating climate change and achieving life-changing development outcomes.
Greenlight Planet is announcing the 2016 release of a “pay-as-you-go” solar home system along with a new affordable solar lantern, further widening Greenlight’s range of globally-available off-grid energy solutions from a portable solar-powered lantern, all the way up to complete fixed solar home systems.
d.light has committed to providing affordable solar powered solutions to an estimated 100 million people, in addition to the 50 million people they have already impacted to date. d.light is able to make this commitment in part due to their launch of a new affordable quality solar light, which will help make solar affordable to tens of millions of people.
Off-Grid Electric (OGE), a distributed renewable energy company, is announcing the launch of their second market in Rwanda, and that they are exceeding 10,000 household installations per month.
Philips is announcing two commitments:
- A pledge to end light poverty by 2030. Solar LED lighting is a strategic imperative for Philips who is working with city and national governments and stakeholders across Africa, Asia and Latin America to develop solutions with the goal to end light poverty by 2030. They also are committed to assisting developing countries in using solar powered technologies to leap-frog stages of development and kick-start their economies.
- Philips also commits to accelerating the renovation of existing infrastructure in cities, streets, and offices to spur further adoption of LED technology in order to save energy, reduce carbon emissions and create more jobs.
Social Investment Managers and Advisors (SIMA) commits $15 million to provide working capital finance and increase the scale of off-grid solar manufacturers and distributers. SIMA’s financing is intended to help these firms grow and reach millions of low-income customers with high efficiency solar equipment in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In the process, SIMA works with these firms to establish good governance practices and mutually agreeable frameworks for reporting on social and environmental outcomes.
Factor(E) Ventures commits to catalyzing $10M in early-stage off-grid and energy access ventures over the next two years. Factor(E) will continue to work to develop companies that will drive economic development through energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa.
SunEdison Frontier Power is announcing the deployment of renewable energy infrastructure to deliver electricity, connectivity, and water services to people and communities in frontier economies, aiming to reach 20 million people around the world by 2020.
United Nations Foundation, with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, commits to a four-year initiative to deliver sustainable power solutions to health facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, as part of the larger efforts of the UN-led Sustainable Energy for All initiative. The focus of this work is on improving the accessibility, quality, and safety of essential health services – with a particular focus on addressing the needs of women and children – through the holistic and sustainable electrification of healthcare facilities, combined with a focus on high quality renewable, energy efficient solutions. With an initial plan to provide electricity to 80 facilities with decentralized renewable energy, the initiative is expected to support more than 1,000 healthcare workers serving nearly 1.4 million people, and will improve healthcare service delivery affecting approximately 500,000 outpatient visits annually.
International Electrotechnical Commission, the international organization that provides much of the global technical framework for billions of components, devices and systems for energy access, is committing to provide the technical basis for the deployment of systems and devices that help enable improved off-grid energy access in developing countries. Over the coming two years, their working groups will develop or revise technical specifications and test methods related to pico-solar products, solar home system kits, renewable energy mini-grid systems, and energy efficient appliances that are appropriate for use in off-grid applications. Additionally, this month they are organizing a meeting in New Delhi that is dedicated to advancing low voltage DC and it is one of the milestones in the broad deployment of these technologies.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is announcing the Global Lighting Challenge (GLC), led by the Clean Energy Ministerial and UNEP through its en.lighten project, a global push to deploy 10 billion high-efficiency, high-quality and affordable advanced lamps and lighting systems. The GLC will use its global platform to support and promote the work of the International Finance Corporation/World Bank Group’s Lighting Global program in advancing global markets for quality-assured off-grid lighting products. UNEP/en.lighten will expand efforts to promote harmonization of quality and performance standards for off-grid lighting systems in key markets. Lighting Global, with support from the CEM’s Global LEAP initiative, is now expanding their Quality Assurance program to include solar home system kits to support delivery of energy services beyond lighting
SparkMeter and Shell Foundation are announcing their partnership to develop a low-cost smart metering solution to enhance energy access for low-income communities in emerging markets. This seeks to unlock the potential of mini-grids to scale and enable access to electricity for the tens of millions “under the grid” – people living within 10km of an existing transmission line, but are not connected.
FINCA, a U.S.-based non-profit, is committing to reach 1.5 million people in Uganda with beneficial off-grid solar energy products, as well as facilitate the growth of impactful solar enterprises through an integrated approach by 2020. They will work directly with off-grid solar enterprises that operate across the developing world.
All Power Labs, a developer of quality-assured biomass gasifiers, is announcing their long-term commitment for increased deployment in the off-grid sector, including releasing a new product in 2016.