Invest in the Sun Podcast: Candid conversations about the off-grid solar market
This podcast unites investors and industry experts in candid conversations on hot topics and new developments in the sector.
For the first episode titled ‘The off-grid solar market in 2021: Resilience, recovery and ramping up new capital’ GOGLA was joined by guests Sarah Bieber, Head of Energy Partnerships at Acumen, and Koen Peters, Executive Director at GOGLA, to discuss how we as the off-grid solar sector have experienced the pandemic and how it has affected energy access.
Here are the key takeaways from the conversation:
1. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us the true importance of energy access, and that the demand from people for lights, phones, and appliances is even stronger in times of need. Off-grid solar helped improve health, safety, and opportunity for families across the developing world, but there are still so many people without access. This is a story that we need to tell more widely. To continue growing as a sector and deliver impact to some of the world’s most vulnerable communities, we need to grow beyond our current group of investors, who have been rallying around the industry.
2. The Energy Access Relief Fund was born out of industry solidarity. The concern that companies would be badly affected by the pandemic had investors, donors, and sector leaders working round the clock to assess company needs and to try to design financial instruments and technical assistance they might need to weather the crisis. As Sarah elaborated, “Everyone everywhere was hustling. And there was a real beauty in how this industry came together. The sense of community, we were all isolated, we were all scared. That’s part of what makes this industry so resilient.” That was the start of the EARF.
3. Off-grid solar entrepreneurs are tenacious and resilient. Companies and their customers were going through significant uncertainty; facing stockouts, evaporating capital, and dwindling incomes, forced companies to adapt and change. They are confident in their products and services and agile and creative in the face of multiple and diverse challenges. The entrepreneurs are what make this sector resilient and worth supporting.
4. Decentralised renewables are a climate action solution. Off-grid solar is largely known for its social impacts – generating income, improving quality of life, building resilience in communities addressing poverty. But there is also a climate story to tell. Shifting the energy sector to a low-carbon pathway will mitigate emissions on a massive scale. At the same time, off-grid solar helps build resilience and strengthen adaptive capacity for people and communities that are most vulnerable to a changing climate.