Waiting for the World Bank’s Scaling Solar and Storage program

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The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a member of the World Bank and provides financing for projects in developing countries, is well known for its Scaling Solar program.

Scaling Solar is a “one stop shop” scheme, which helps privately funded grid-connected solar PV projects undertake an initial legal, regulatory and technical analysis; prepares and runs the tender for the projects; and helps these projects achieve financial close.

Recently, there has been discussion over whether the Scaling Solar program should expand to also include energy storage.

Jean-Pascal Boutin, partner at Eversheds Sutherland, a global law firm specializing in the area of energy infrastructure and regulation, told the Energy Storage Connected Systems (ESCS) conference, held in London, the U.K. this week, that the IFC and the World Bank “have been running their Scaling Solar program and they just announced they are going to combine storage in to that program as well, so we will be seeing, especially in Africa, storage included in their program.”

Boutin’s presentation at the conference was reviewing the latest energy storage developments in the U.K. and internationally.

The IFC has not formally announced that it is including energy storage in the Scaling Solar program. However, Eversheds Sutherland tends to be well informed regarding forthcoming developments related to the bank.

Recent developments

Boutin’s remarks do not come as a major surprise. In June, Yasser Charafi, principal investment officer at the IFC, told the Africa Energy Forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, that the IFC was working towards the development of the first large-scale grid-connected battery storage project in Africa. He declined to provide further details, however.

Then on January 31, the IFC and the government of Canada announced that they “have formed a blended finance partnership that will use public funds to unlock larger amounts of private sector investments to expand renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Commenting on the partnership, IFC CEO Philippe Le Houérou said that there is “significant potential for additional economic and development gains in new areas like energy storage and off-grid solar.”

Boutin also referred to off-grid energy storage, saying that Eversheds Sutherland sees such development in the Middle East and Africa, where customers currently rely heavily on diesel, and are working towards an alternative of solar PV combined with battery storage.

He added that his firm is undertaking a project in Saudi Arabia and that he knows of telecom companies that are considering similar projects in Nigeria and elsewhere.