Off-Grid Clean Energy Services Will Be Worth $12 Billion by 2030

On 18 June 2014, the Sierra Club released a report – Clean Energy Services For All (CES4All) — analyzing the future growth of the booming global off-grid solar market. According to CES4All, catalyzing the off-grid clean energy markets can help provide energy access for the 1.3 billion people around the world currently living without electricity while simultaneously creating a $12 billion annual market by 2030.

“Our findings underscore just how large an influence this fast-growing clean energy market can have on global energy poverty. More importantly, our report emphasizes the need for international institutions, like the World Bank, to put their money where their mouth is by providing the investments required to spur this solar energy revolution,” said Justin Guay, Associate Director of the Sierra Club’s International Climate Program.

The report also finds that, in order to support and foster this market and ultimately end energy poverty, international financial institutions must not only fulfill their stated commitments to supporting clean energy but also provide adequate funding quickly,over the next two to three years.

By expanding solar power to those living beyond the energy grid, investments from international financial institutions — like the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the African Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank — will be able to power life-changing interventions such as mobile phone charging, televisions, fans, and lighting. These initial interventions will ultimately help build a fundamentally different, distributed, and democratic power system for those currently living in energy poverty. This innovativation will, in turn, prioritize putting power in the hands of people today and allow them to move up the energy ladder rather than wait for decades for an energy grid that may or may not ever arrive.

And not only is off-grid energy access possible, this report shows its already starting to become a reality. Seventy-five percent of new mobile connections come from these emerging markets, creating a demand for more electricity in rural off-grid areas. By using existing mobile phone access, off-grid companies are able to tap in to mobile money platforms to lower costs and increase access for payments to even the most remote of customers. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of cell phone towers that have been built off the grid are now providing access to “community power” for local people.

This advancement isn’t just restricted to one geographic area either. In Bangladesh, 80,000 solar home systems are being installed each month, while in sub-Saharan Africa, the off-grid solar market has grown by 95 percent. With the support of major financial institutions, like the World Bank, these numbers can continue to grow and clean energy access will be achieved by all.

The report was co-authored by Evan Mills of Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Stewart Craine of Village Infrastructure Angels, and Justin Guay of the Sierra Club.

Read the full report here.

Originally posted on the Sierra Club website.