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Off-grid solar market recovering as energy access slowing

While the off-grid solar market has shown tremendous resilience, recovery from the COVID-19 related lockdowns is uneven despite it being an industry that could drive climate action and help the world achieve energy access goals.

GOGLA and the Efficiency for Access Coalition have published the latest semi-annual Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report which shows an additional 23 million people could have gained energy access if the off-grid solar market had remained on its pre-COVID-19 growth trajectory.

Almost 3.5 million units of off-grid solar lighting products were sold around the world between January and June 2021. This represents a 4% decrease in sales compared to the second half of 2020. Sales of off-grid appropriate appliances such as television sets, fans, refrigeration units and solar water pumps shrank by 10% compared to the previous reporting period, with 421,000 units sold.

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Off-grid solar-powered lighting and appliances provide the most affordable and fastest way for hundreds of millions of climate-vulnerable households and businesses, currently operating without access to electricity, to avoid CO2 emissions.

While climate-vulnerable communities contribute the least to the world’s climate crises they are very exposed to its negative consequences. Off-grid solar products enable them to adapt and become more resilient to climate shocks, while helping the world achieve a net-zero energy future.

Reduced consumer spend on off-grid solar products disrupts energy access for all trajectory

The report also shows that the uneven results observed in different markets are affected by their maturity, regulations, access to finance, donor programmes, climate linked disasters, political instability, conflict, pandemic and countries’ response to it.

Koen Peters, GOGLA Executive Director said the report provides essential data necessary to understanding where we stand and what needs to be done to achieve universal energy access and deliver climate justice. “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.”

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Power 1 Billion Lives Energy Compact

GOGLA, the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry, will be present at COP26 this week with a call to increase climate finance from public and private investors in line with the Paris Agreement target of mobilising $100 million a year. They are also advocating for the importance of collaboration among governments, business, civil society and investors to boost the sector to achieve SDG7 and net-zero targets by 2050.

GOGLA is spearheading the Power 1 Billion Lives Energy Compact, which is also supported by SEforAll and UN Energy, meant to rapidly boost support for the sector among investors, government and development partners to achieve SDG7 which calls for “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Within the frame of the United Nations’ High Level Dialoge on Energy GOGLA has launched an Energy Compact and Roadmap to “power 1 billion lives by 2030”.

The Global Off-Grid Solar Market Report for January to June 2021 is available online.

Theresa Smith
Theresa Smith is a Content Specialist for ESI Africa.

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