New Report | Off-grid solar expected to electrify 624 million people by 2030 but ‘game changers’ are needed to achieve universal access goals

18 October, Kigali: Released today at the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo in Rwanda, the second part of the Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report 2022, ‘Outlook’, published by the World Bank’s Lighting Global, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), GOGLA, Efficiency for Access Coalition, and Open Capital Advisors, projects the number of people who will be electrified by off-grid solar solutions by 2030 and highlights the game changers needed to meet SDG7 electrification targets. Building on the first part of the report which details the current ‘State of the Sector’, which was released earlier this month, part two provides an ‘Outlook’ to 2030.

Key Findings

624 million people are expected to access Tier 1+ off-grid solar energy solutions by 2030

  • Under the projected access scenario, 624 million people will be connected to Tier 1 and above electricity access by 2030 via off-grid solar solutions
  • In addition to people gaining first time access to modern electricity, millions of households in ‘weak grid’ areas will also benefit from off-grid solutions and productive use technologies
  • Under this scenario, the off-grid solar sector is expected to grow by 5% annually and receive $7.8 billion in investment
  • However, the projected access scenario is dependent on continued industry support via interventions such as positive fiscal policy, grants, and subsidies
  • Depending on the development of a range of factors, the industry could grow faster, at 7.2% annually, or slower at 2.8% annually

Despite significant electrification gains through OGS in the projected access scenario, without game changers, universal access – a core pillar of SDG7 – will not be achieved

  • Without game changers, 526 million people will remain unelectrified in 2030 under the projected access scenario. A majority of them are located in nascent and emerging markets
  • Projected investment is also $15.5 billion short of the amount needed to reach SDG7 electrification targets
  • Of the total investment required to achieve SDG7, $4.5 billion is needed to subsidize access by poor and vulnerable households
  • Even greater amounts of investment are needed to reach the 569 million and 192 million smallholder farmers who could benefit from off-grid cold storage and solar water pumps, respectively, in India and sub-Saharan Africa between now and 2030
  • Off-grid solutions will be critical in supporting education and healthcare by providing cost-effective electrification for schools and health centres and helping provide cold storage for critical health supplies such as vaccines
  • Game changers, including greater availability of pay-as-you-go consumer financing, strategic investor engagement, diversified ‘beyond energy’ business models, and an increase in subsidies and concessional finance are needed to ensure that off-grid solar companies can accelerate the pace of electrification and help meet SDG7 targets

Quotes and spokespeople

“The world has changed drastically since the off-grid solar industry convened in Nairobi two years ago, with a combination of Covid, war, and inflation. Thankfully, the sector remained resilient, thanks to record capital inflows of $457M in 2021, but it still means we stand to miss SDG 7 by 516 million people if we don’t act decisively and urgently. This year’s Market Trends Outlook Report recommends a number of game changers that require a combination of innovation, financing, and policy change. The message is clear – we must act now and act collectively, recognizing the critical link between energy access and climate change mitigation and the importance of public-private collaboration.” Andreas Zeller, Open Capital Advisors 

“IFC is working to leverage investment resources and support local financial institutions to provide the necessary local currency debt into the sector while piloting and helping to scale new financial instruments that will attract mainstream investors to the sector,” said Peter Cashion, Global Head Climate Finance, Financial Institutions Group. We need to unlock these game changing financial models to close the projected $15.5 billion financing gap and enable the commercial market to accelerate the pace of access and deliver SDG7 electrification targets,” he continued.

“The last couple of years have presented unprecedented challenges – particularly for those living without electricity. Health concerns and lockdown measures underscored the need to sustainably power households, communications, health and education services and much more. In the Outlook report, ESMAP and its partners lay out the game changing steps needed to surpass current trajectories to reach SDG7. It is essential that we act to accelerate off-grid solar access – particularly in difficult to serve markets where they are needed most, so that the most vulnerable people on the planet can shield themselves against ongoing and future shocks.” Gabriela Elizondo Azuela, Manager, Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), World Bank 

“With off-grid solar technologies, we have a chance to ensure that hundreds of millions of people are lifted out of energy poverty, and can get the power they need to irrigate their crops, store their food and run their businesses. The Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report 2022: Outlook, shows that – on the current trajectory – the most vulnerable people will be left behind. Yet it also lays out the game changers needed to adjust our course and reach universal electrification targets by 2030. We must work together to do this, and achieve a cleaner and more equitable clean energy transition for all.” Patrick Tonui, GOGLA