The Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo organized by the IFC-World Bank Lighting Global program and GOGLA, concluded this week with announcements of $75 million in new investments and that the industry now generates an estimated $1bn a year in revenue.
Three days of high level discussion took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre where 700 people, representing 64 countries, from the off-grid solar energy sector gathered to take stock and discuss future trends and challenges for the sector. The biennial event, supported by ESMAP, provided a platform for companies to strike deals, announce investments and launch new products. Two investment announcements were made during the summit. Off Grid Electric announced $55M new investments from GE Ventures, among others, to expand into Ghana, while Azuri Technologies announced the launch of a $20 million off-balance-sheet debt financing program to provide working capital for the expansion of its off-grid energy services in East Africa. With the total capital raised in the last two years now over $580m, it is expected that the sector will provide improved energy access to 740 million people in 2022.
The event also saw the launch of a major new report, the 2018 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report, findings from which reconfirm that the market for off-grid solar devices is indeed seeing dynamic growth. In 2010 the landscape was made up of just over 60 suppliers of small-scale solar devices, now there are over 330 players occupying that same space. An estimated 130 million off-grid solar products have been sold globally since 2010, selling in over 100 countries. While there remains over two billion people globally who still lack grid connection, or reliable energy, the sector has reached an estimated 360 million of those people, often with vital first-time access to lighting and other energy services.
“These numbers reflect a dynamic young industry that is altering the economic landscape of developing countries while delivering unprecedented development impact,” explains Russell Sturm, Global Head of Energy Access at the International Finance Corporation. “And the arrival of a new crop of investors at this year’s event cast a light on a new phase of explosive growth for the next two years”
“Our ability to respond to the demand has changed by an order of magnitude” explains Koen Peters, Executive Director of GOGLA, when asked how the sector has grown over the last ten years. “The challenge is now on… let's see if we can do the same again.”