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

The White House Office of the Press Secretary
October 22, 2015

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.

To read the full press release, vis­it The White House Office of the Press Sec­re­tary.