Press Release: Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report Indicates Need for Further Climate Investment To Achieve Universal Energy Access
An additional 23 million people could have gained energy access if the off-grid solar market had remained on its growth trajectory
Off-grid solar lighting and appliances are essential in meeting emerging market households and businesses’ energy needs while avoiding CO2 emissions
As world leaders prepare to meet at COP26, GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar industry, along with Efficiency for Access Coalition, just published its latest semi-annual Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report. Data from January to June 2021 confirms that, while the sector has shown tremendous resilience, recovery from COVID-19 is uneven for one of the industries that drive climate action and propel the world towards achieving energy access goals.
Globally, close to 3.5 million units of off-grid solar lighting products were sold between January and June 2021, a moderate 4% decrease in sales compared to the second half of 2020. Sales of key off-grid appropriate appliances (TVs, fans, refrigeration units and solar water pumps) shrank by 10% compared to the previous reporting round with 421,000 units sold.
COVID-19, a disruption in the path to universal energy access and climate justice
Off-grid solar lighting and appliances provide the fastest and most affordable way to meet the energy needs of hundreds of millions of climate-vulnerable households and businesses currently living without access to electricity while avoiding CO2 emissions. These communities have contributed the least to the climate crisis, but they are very exposed to its negative consequences. Off-grid solar solutions enable them to adapt and become more resilient to climate shocks, while achieving a net-zero energy future.
If the off-grid solar market had continued the growth trend it showed before COVID-19, an estimated 23 million people could have gained energy access in the past 18 months but, with the COVID-19 crisis, consumers’ spending capacity has been reduced and global supply chains have been disrupted. Additionally, the report shows that the uneven results observed in the different markets are affected by their maturity, regulations, access to finance, donor programs, climate-linked disasters, political instability, conflict, pandemic and countries’ response to it.
With this in mind, GOGLA is spearheading the ambitious Power 1 Billion Lives Energy Compact, supported by SEforALL and UN Energy, to rapidly boost support for the sector among investors, governments and development partners to achieve SDG 7: “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. All these stakeholders have key roles to play in providing an economic environment which enables citizens’ access to clean energy, and efficient appliances to not only safeguard, but expand development gains linked to access to energy.
“With this report we continue to provide essential data, which is so necessary to understand where we stand and what needs to be done to achieve universal energy access and have climate justice delivered. It paints a story of the off-grid solar industry still remaining the best option to reach these goals, but also makes clear that we won’t get there automatically and we need support from governments, donors and investors to move faster.” said Koen Peters, Executive Director, GOGLA.
“It is encouraging to see that energy efficient solar-powered appliances continue to gain traction as a key component in boosting economic opportunities for the world’s poorest people and avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. However, major investment is still needed to strengthen and scale the off-grid appliance market and reach those currently underserved.
In the lead up to COP26 and during the conference itself, Efficiency for Access will continue to support the off-grid solar sector by putting affordable, high-performing, and inclusive solar-powered appliances and technologies front and centre on the sustainable development agenda.” said Emilie Carmichael, Head of International, Energy Saving Trust and Jenny Corry Smith, Senior Manager, Clean Energy Access, CLASP.
GOGLA will be present at COP26 with a call to increase climate finance from public and private investors in line with the Paris Agreement target of mobilising $100 billion per year and reinforcing the importance of collaboration among governments, businesses, civil society and investors to boost the off-grid solar sector, achieve SDG7 and net-zero targets by 2050.
Photo courtesy of Knut-Erik Helle.