Over 1.4 billion people in the world do not have access to electricity, and most of them live in developing countries. Solar energy represents a great opportunity to combat energy poverty by providing clean, affordable energy to all. The following articles detail recent developments, goals, and new technologies in solar energy.
Will SunFunder Unlock $1 Billion in Off-Grid Solar Venture Debt? by Justin Guay on The Energy Collective
One of the big success factors for solar energy companies in emerging markets is access to financing– crucial for expanding and scaling business operations. San Francisco- and Tanzania-based SunFunder is trying to facilitate this access in a major way. The company has used a crowdfunding model to become successful over the past two years, financing 24 projects in 6 countries providing access to affordable energy to over 115,000 people. Now, SunFunder is aiming to raise $5 million by the end of the year and $20 million by 2015 on the way to the ultimate goal of $1 billion by 2020.
Energy Department Announces Funding for Solar Initiative on Mother Earth News
In support of the SunShot Initiative, the US Department of Energy has announced $15 million of support for affordable solar installation in homes and businesses. This new funding will also help communities promote renewable energy access through the establishment of shared solar programs, in which individuals and small businesses could lease or purchase electricity from a share of a larger project. Innovative programs such as these can be especially helpful in emerging markets where high up-front costs are one of the biggest barriers to accessing solar power and other forms of clean energy.
Modi to Use Solar to Bring Power to Every Home by 2019 by Rakteem Katakey and Debjit Chakraborty on Bloomberg
400 million people in India lack access to electricity, more than the total population of the United States and Canada combined. Following his election as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has announced his intentions to combat this problem by using solar energy to power every home in the country by 2019. Through expanded clean-power generation, Modi’s administration will focus on creating clean energy jobs and supplying power to the millions of scattered off-grid households throughout the country.
Feeling the Burn: How a Switch from Oil to Affordable Solar Can Electrify Africa by Erica Mackey and Eugene Amusin on The Huffington Post
Inefficient burning of oil for light is the world’s most uneconomic use of fossil fuel, but each year $25 billion worth of jet fuel in the form of kerosene is used in oil lamps. Solar power can produce light at a cost 335 times less than burning oil, but barriers to access like high initial costs and risk of system failure or poor quality are limiting solar adoption in developing countries. Companies such as Off.Grid:Electric are eliminating these barriers by providing energy as a service rather than a product. The company’s business model fosters a long term relationship with the customer and the development of improved technology and systems. Companies will need to continue to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions in developing countries in order to provide electricity to the 1.4 billion people across the world that currently lack it.