Off-grid solar delivers power to 360 million: report


The off-grid solar sector has provided improved electricity to as many as 360 million people to date, according to a new report.

The 2018 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report, released by the World Bank Group’s Lighting Global Program, Dalberg Advisors and GOGLA, has found the global off-grid solar industry has taken a leap in the past year to help developing countries reach their energy access goals.

“This report paints a picture of an industry that has firmly claimed its place in the energy landscape,” GOGLA director Koen Peters said.

“It will continue to innovate quickly and is only becoming better at serving energy needs for customers in developing countries”.

The report will be formally launched during the 2018 Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo, which takes place this week in Hong Kong.

One of the key findings of the report is the dynamic growth of solar devices over the past decade.

An estimated 130 million off-grid solar products have been sold globally since 2010, ranging from small portable lanterns to 100+ Watt solar home systems capable of powering appliances such as TVs and fans.

Selling in more than 100 countries, these devices often provide critical first-time access to lighting and other energy services to the 2.2 billion people who still lack grid connection or reliable electricity.

As the market has grown, so has the supplier base – a little more than 60 dedicated suppliers in 2010 has grown to over 330 today, with increasing specialisation along the value chain.

“The numbers in the report reflect a dynamic young industry that is altering the economic landscape of developing countries while delivering unprecedented development impact,” International Finance Corporation global head of energy access Russell Sturm said.

“However, the real story of the sector lies in the transformative power of innovation as revolutionary new business models and disruptive technologies continue to emerge across the market.

“This report provides a compelling view under the hood of that dynamic machine and casts a light on what may lie around the corner”.

In 2016, the most recent year for which complete data is available, total sales amounted to more than 30 million devices, generating an estimated US$1 billion in revenue.

Sales growth of smaller devices are stabilising, while larger devices have witnessed explosive growth of more than 85 per cent annually since 2014.

This has been driven largely by pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) sales.

Investment in the sector doubled annually from 2012-2016, with companies raising approximately US$922 million in financing between 2012 and 2017.