A global organization dedicated to building a more inclusive world through innovative finance and support for high-impact enterprises – announced their first Bangladesh investment from the IIX Growth Fund, into off-grid solar energy firm SOLshare. IIX brought together a consortium of investors including Silicon Valley-based innogy New Ventures LLC (the venture capital investment arm of the German utility firm innogy SE), and Portuguese utility firm EDP, to close a US$1.66 million Series A round. Funding will be used to increase access to clean energy for over 19,000 rural households and 14,000 micro-entrepreneurs, and address climate change by avoiding over 2,200 metric tons of carbon emissions by 2021.
SOLshare has developed the world’s first peer-to-peer solar electricity trading platform for off-grid households, making affordable clean energy accessible to everyone. The propritary SOLbox energy meter allows for peer-to-peer electricity trading between off-grid households and micro-enterprises connected to solar panels. As more users connect over time, the SOLshare network grows in supply and distribution, empowering everyone to become solar entrepreneurs by selling excess energy.
Robert Kraybill, Managing Director of IIX, said: “Access to modern, clean energy is essential not only for reducing poverty, but also for building more inclusive, resilient communities. With the majority of the world’s energy poor living in Asia, the IIX Growth Fund invests in innovative enterprises like SOLshare that meet rising energy demands, maximize scarce resources, and ensure a sustainable future for everyone. SOLshare’s tech-driven platform has already received global recognition, and we are happy to be able to fund their rollout in Bangladesh and expansion into neighboring countries.”
Dr. Sebastian Groh, Managing Director of SOLshare, said: “We strongly believe that the new energy world is fuelled by the 5 D’s: Decentralization, Decarbonization, Digitization, Democratization & Disruption. We are extremely honored and grateful that partners from innogy, EDP, and IIX have put their trust in us in shaping this new energy future. The aim is to create efficient and dynamic local energy markets that empower households and encourage solar entrepreneurship – starting in Bangladesh, followed by India before the end of this year, and eventually on a global scale.”
SOLshare is also working with partners such as the German Development Cooperation (GIZ), the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Australian utility firm Origin, and Microsoft. SOLshare is a graduate of IIX’s award-winning Acceleration and Customized Technical Services (ACTS) program, which provides high-impact enterprises with customized capacity building and technical assistance, impact assessment services, investment readiness and capital raising support. Prior to that, IIX also supported SOLshare as a mentor in 2012. SOLshare has recently been accepted into the Technical Pioneers Program of the World Economic Forum, an annual list of the most innovative companies in the world whose technologies are world changing.
“SOLshare´s vision and mission has immediately convinced us. We have a unique vision of the future of energy driven by the idea of disruption through digitalization. SOLshare solves an immediate customer problem of today – the physical access to energy – and enables their customers to produce, trade and consume this demand in a local micro grid. The Bangladeshi and neighboring markets are an ideal environment for sustainable growth. We’re excited to be part of this journey,“ said Stefan Padberg, Managing Director of innogy New Ventures LLC.
Bangladesh has five million solar home systems installed – more than any other country in the world. However, more than half of Bangladesh’s population has no access to electricity, and demand has reached nearly double the country’s generating capacity. Bangladesh faces significant unmet energy needs as its power generation is dependent on limited energy sources—imported fossil fuel and natural gas. Furthermore, grid extension is not always feasible and in some cases technically challenging. Asia and the Pacific region is home to the majority of the world’s energy poor, with an estimated 700 million people without access to electricity.