SunFunder’s mission is to improve access to reliable energy in emerging markets through the power of solar. The U.S. Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has approved a $15 million loan for the SunFunder managed new investment vehicle the “Beyond the Grid Solar Fund.” The support from the federal government’s development arm brings the fund up to $50 million.
The fund will provide financing in developing nations to companies that manufacture, distribute and install solar lighting and solar energy systems. The new fund, according to SunFunder could help several million individuals switch from kerosene and diesel to solar energy. The fund will help them both reduce their energy costs and their CO2 emissions, according to OPIC.
“Solar energy is the most viable solution to replace dirty and unreliable fossil fuel energy sources and to increase energy access for those who really need it,” said Ryan Levinson, SunFunder’s founder and CEO. “To support solar’s growth in emerging markets, access to sector-specific financing is key. OPIC’s investment in SunFunder's Beyond The Grid Solar Fund will help expand our ability to respond to the financing gap that exists for off-grid and grid-deficit solar. Getting this kind of support and validation from OPIC will open up more opportunities not only for solar enterprises but also for investors worldwide.”
By 2020 SunFunder hopes to expand the fund to $1 billion in solar loans around the world. “To date, SunFunder has financed a total of $8.7 million of loans to 23 solar companies in 10 countries and increased energy access to more than half a million people—while maintaining 100 percent repayment rate to investors and a loan default rate below 1 percent,” the company said.
OPIC’s Innovative Financial Intermediaries Program is support the SunFunder loan. It said the program focuses on smaller investment funds that focussed on innovative approaches to specific development challenges. The program is a $500 million pilot program.
“OPIC is proud to partner with SunFunder in delivering innovative financing solutions for off-grid and grid-deficit solar energy in developing countries,” said Elizabeth Littlefield, OPIC’s President and CEO. “The fund will facilitate access to financing by companies that provide clean energy products and services.”
SunFunder will use the funds to support solar energy projects in countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Zambia, Philippines, Uganda, Ghana, Pakistan and India. The funds will support anything from portable solar powered lamps and 200 watt solar home systems (1 to 2 solar panels) to 500 kilowatt diesel replacement systems, OPIC said.
The government also has supported solar power growth in developing countries through the Export Import Bank.Tweet