By 2020, the sales of off-grid solar products in emerging markets are expected to reach $3.1 billion, providing improved energy for 99 million households with no access to the grid, according to a new report released by the World Bank Group and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), in collaboration with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association.
The report, titled “Off-Grid Solar Market Trends,” tracks the technological advances and innovative business models that have emerged to transform the lives of millions through affordable modern solar energy services. It shows that the off-grid solar industry is booming and that a growing wave of development partners and investors are committing significant funds, with a primary focus on pay-as-you-go business models.
The report finds that annual investments into the industry have risen to $276 million in 2015, a fifteen-fold increase since 2012. It also shows that 89 million people in Africa and Asia already enjoy improved access to energy by using off-grid solar products.
“The report provides a comprehensive view of the state of one of the most impactful industries in the global economy today,” says the World Bank’s Russell Sturm.
According to the report, solar-powered portable lights and home kits offer a safer, cheaper and environmentally friendlier service to the 1.2 billion people who live without access to the power grid and currently spend about $27 billion annually on fuel-based lighting and mobile-phone charging technologies.
“The pay-as-you-go business model combines rapid innovation in solar, batteries and LED lights with the transformative power of mobile communication technology,” says BNEF’s Itamar Orlandi. “This allows new companies to build services, sales and a deep understanding of their customers at an accelerating pace, which in turn is attracting new sources of growth capital into the industry.