While it may be the utility-scale PV installations that tend to make the glamourous solar headlines, off-grid solar solutions in low-income rural parts of the world are changing the quality of people’s lives on a daily basis. The proliferation of PV technology to these areas is mainly being done by a handful of innovative and driven companies, with a commendable goal of providing reliable and affordable electricity to communities that had previous not had such access.
One of these companies is d.light, who is garnering lots of investment interest to achieve its goal, with the most recent chuck a USD 10.5 million investment from three organizations. The funding will come in part from new investor Norfund, who will supply USD 5 million in equity, while the rest will come by means of grant funding from Beyond the Grid and Shell Foundation.
This new investment will be used by the company to expand its operations in Africa and Asia, which it has highlighted as its key markets, while continuing to offer its Pay-as-you-Go financing option, PayGo. The company has already sold over 15 million solar light and power products, with its solutions offering additional applications to make use of the power, such as mobile phone chargers and radios.
“Access to energy is a key input for development, and we believe energy mix for the foreseeable future also will include off-grid solutions, in particular for rural households and businesses,” commented Norfund’s head of clean energy investments Mark Davis. “As the leading provider of off-grid solutions in emerging markets, d.light is a good addition to our energy portfolio, mostly consisting of utility-scale projects connected to the grid. In countries where energy access is low for the vast majority, solar has the ability to impact people living there in a multitude of ways.”
d.light has managed to accumulate a large chunk of funding in a relatively short period of time. In fact, it has now managed to attract USD 40 million in funding in the last four months, including two separate rounds of funding, one of USD 22.5 million and another of USD 7.5 million.
Off-grid solar is growing in Africa and in Asia, where remote areas that did not previously have reliable and affordable access to electricity can benefit from the convenient power solutions, which do not require a grid for installation. Funding for off-grid solar has been particularly prominent in Africa over the last couple of years, with a number of innovative companies leading the charge to electrify rural regions using clean PV technology.
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