BNEF: Off-Grid Solar Market To Reach $3.1 Billion By 2020

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Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

BNEF: Off-Grid Solar Market To Hit $3.1 Billion By 2020

The off-grid solar energy technology market will boom over the next 5 years, with sales hitting the $3.1 billion mark by 2020, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Considering that roughly $27 billion a year is spent globally on lighting + mobile-phone charging via conventional sources/technologies (kerosene, candles, disposable batteries, etc), the prediction wouldn’t mark the occurrence of a game-change in the market, but would comprise a notable dent.

The new report — which was commissioned by the World Bank–backed Lighting Global initiative — noted that the market was already entering a period of maturity, as there are now more than 100 companies focused on solar lanterns and charging kits. Investment into the market hit the $276 million mark last year.

“The pay-as-you-go business model combines rapid innovation in solar, batteries and LED lights with the transformative power of mobile communication technology,” stated Itamar Orlandi, BNEF’s head of applied research. “This allows new companies to build services, sales and a deep understanding of their customers at an accelerating pace, which in turn is attracting new sources of growth capital into the industry.”

The report argues that while the current focus is on lighting and phone charging that changes are likely over the next few years.

“About seven million off-grid households will use solar-powered fans and 15 million households will have a solar-powered TV in 2020, according to our estimates,” the BNEF report noted. “Similar systems will also provide services to small businesses.”

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6 thoughts on “BNEF: Off-Grid Solar Market To Reach $3.1 Billion By 2020

  • It’s a race between the TV for the men and the fridge for the women. Expect the TV to come first, but the fridge will follow quickly. A single 300W panel – a standard rooftop one – will cover TV, fridge, lights, fan, and phone charger, assuming a battery.

    • Not so sure about TVs, which are obsolete already. I’m betting that after the phones, the lights, and the fridge come the laptops (which include TV)!

      • Who watches football on a laptop? I had forgotten the synergy between football on the TV and beer in the fridge.

  • The map of low grid connection areas aligns pretty well with high solar resource areas, particularly in Africa. That should be good for solar. The other thing to realize is that even some areas that show a high percentage of grid connection do not have have a reliable grid. The grid is out for many hours every day in some of these places. People are resorting to the same sort of distributed solar in those places as well.

    • Good point. India is an example. IIRC many businesses have backup generators now, so the idea of solar plus battery is not as strange as it is in rich countries with reliable grids (I’m not sure if the USA counts).

      • Last time I was in India it seemed that every retail business had a small generator chained up out in front of their store. Grid down – cranks pulled.

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