Off-grid solar market worth $300 million annually

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A new report released by the World Bank Group and the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), in partnership with Bloomberg New Energy Finance has found that a new market, for off-grid solar products, has opened up, worth an annual $300 million, with over 13 million off-grid solar products having been sold to date.

In Africa alone, sales have tripled in the last three years. The sub-Saharan market is said to be reporting the strongest sales with around 1.37 million products sold. South Asia is following closely behind, with roughly 1.28 million products sold.

A spokesperson for the report told pv magazine that of the products GOGLA and World Bank Lighting Global count, some 50% are solar lanterns with light only, while 45% are lamps with phone charging – out of a total of close to three million sold in first six months of 2015. In terms of values of sales, these figures change to 14% and 38%, respectively, they add.

While individual sales numbers are not known, the spokesperson said market leaders for solar lanterns are d.light and Greenlight Planet, while Mkopa is recognized as being a leader in solar home systems.

At present, states the report, more than one billion people live without access to basic electricity, while many have to rely on dirty diesel-powered generators or kerosene lamps. With the rise of the off-grid solar market, however, this is set to change.

Commenting on the importance of solar-powered products as replacements for diesel or kerosene powered ones, Koen Peters, GOGLA executive director told pv magazine, "As of today, one in every five people on this planet light their home with kerosene lanterns, power their radio with expensive batteries, walk for hours to charge their mobile phone down town, spend hard-earned cash on diesel to keep their businesses going. But we’re finding that people in developing countries are customers with very similar aspirations as everywhere else on the world, and this is not how they want to spend their money and time."

He continued, "Modern solar technology now offers solutions that are cheaper, safer, easier – indeed better in every respect. From quality, reliable solar lanterns that can now be sold for below USD 10 (and earned back from kerosene savings within weeks) to solar home systems that provide light, phone charging, radio, television and other basic services that are made affordable also to low-income customers with pay-as-you-go payment options. The demand is huge – and this market can only grow from here."

The full results of the report will be presented at the 4th International Off-Grid Lighting Conference and Exhibition, which is currently underway in Dubai.