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Off-grid solar boom

Photo by David Monje on Unsplash

Off-grid solar is playing a major role in achieving UN Global Goal 7 – affordable and clean energy for all, a new World Bank Group and GOGLA report reveals.

There are still 840 million citizens worldwide living without electricity. To ensure they have access to power as quickly as possible, the continued roll out of innovations like off-grid solar technologies will be key.

The off-grid solar industry is instrumental for achieving universal electricity access

“We are scaling up our support to client countries by helping them leverage this potential through innovative and financially sustainable solutions,” said Riccardo Puliti, Global Director, Energy and Extractive Industries and Regional Director, Infrastructure, Africa, at the World Bank.

The 2020 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends report shows a sector in rude health. Today its supplies power to 420 million people, is a market worth $1.75 billion annually, and one which has attracted investments in excess of $1.5 billion since 2012.

While its growth continues on a strong upward curve though, it will need to do even better if it is to further bridge the affordability gap and maximise its impact throughout this pivotal decade for the planet, the report says. To do that off-grid solar will need an additional investment of $11 billion, equivalent to an increased growth of 13%, with $7.7 billion coming from external financing and $3.4 billion from pubic funding.

“Only by crowding in commercial finance at scale can we reach the target of achieving universal access by 2030,” added Paulo de Bolle, Sr Director, Global Financial Institutions Group for IFC. “We are eager to work with our local bank partners in the more mature off-grid markets where commercial debt can drive the next stage of market growth.”

Meanwhile, another renewable source, wind energy, is also enjoying success, according to a new report by BloombergNEF (BNEF). In 2019 the industry commissioned 61GW of wind turbines, up from 50GW the year before, with the offshore installation of turbines rising to 12%, up from 8% in 2018. Europe and the Americas accounted for over 22GW of onshore wind additions last year, with 30.4GW in Asia Pacific and 0.5MW in Africa and the Middle East.

“This bumper year for offshore wind is just the start. If you look past a likely blip in 2020, installations are set to accelerate, breaking the 10GW-a-year barrier in 2023,” said Tom Harries, head of wind research at BNEF.

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Iain Robertson
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