Jan 31, 2018 · 3 min read

Top 10 Take-Aways from the Global Off-Grid Solar Forum and Expo (GOGLA)

Last week, Ashden’s International Programme Manager, Chhavi Sharma visited the GOGLA forum and expo in Hong Kong. Here are the key take-aways if you missed it…

Empower Generation won an Ashden Award in 2017
  1. 2017: Last year was a tough year for SMEs in the off-grid solar sector for a few reasons. Until now, the market has been blessed with low-hanging fruit for manufacturers and distributers alike, but exhaustion of finance and accessible markets has slowed growth slightly, and opened the door for specialisation and more focus on larger systems and productive uses.
  2. Trends: A few key trends came up again and again during the week including the need for more awareness, regulation and more appetite for risk, especially when it comes to local finance and...
  3. Adaptation: One of the buzzwords of sustainable energy development is innovation, in product development, financial models and distribution channels. However, as existing markets reach maturity, there is a need for a shift from innovation to adaptation. If we want to reach more people, and faster, with clean, affordable light, phone charging and other services, organisations will have to work together to share knowledge and resources — adapting existing technology, business models, infrastructure and resources, and specialising in the areas where they have the comparative advantage.
  4. Market share: The off-grid solar sector is split into two by GOGLA, affilaites and non-affiliates. Affiliates include the big brands and recognisable names are part of the GOGLA network, have received Ashden Awards (in many cases) and over the years have been approved by many. Non-affiliates includes everyone else that is making or selling off-grid solar products. One of the most shocking stats of the week illustrated that the affiliates only account for 29% of the off-grid solar market, whilst non-affiliates have 71%. The question is then, how do we reach the 71% and help them provide reliable products at scale?
Where off-grid solar funding has been allocated over the past 5 years

5. Finance: Which brings us back to finance. The amazing graph above really captured the state of the sector in the way that money is distributed and how difficult it is for start-ups and others to enter the space. These top 10 organisations are receiving the vast majority of the money currently available — we need to see this being more evenly distributed if we want a world where everyone has access to clean, sustainable energy. Annual revenues are predicted to grow 8-fold by 2022 and the distribution of finance will be key to achieving this target.

6. Productive uses: We need to focus more on putting money back in people’s pockets through sustainable energy. By ‘moving up the energy ladder’ and providing off-grid solar that can power small businesses and facilities, we can improve the affordability of solar as a whole.

7. Local debt: National banks are going to play a key role in the provision of growth finance in 2018. Awareness raising, better government policy, and regulation and a higher appetite for risk from institutional and corporate investors and banks will be crucial to ensuring this is successful.

8. Partnerships and collaboration: An obvious one, but an area where we need to see much more growth. We hope to see a rise in open source technology becoming available, and SMEs leveraging existing distribution channels.

9. Opportunities: The main opportunities that we identified are going to be in the provision of larger appliances, energy storage and better infrastructure for productive uses of sustainable energy.

10. Ashden: At Ashden we have seen the applications for our annual Awards reflect the trends mentioned above. We have been receiving more applications from organisations that are entering frontier markets, providing sustainable energy for productive uses and are seeing organisations that have previously been involved in all aspects of the supply chain, move to specialising in one area and working with others to provide the most competitive and efficient service.

Find out who is on the longlist and get your tickets for the Ceremony here.

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