Over 2 billion people globally have no access to reliable and affordable energy as the grid infrastructure is expensive to deploy.
Renewable energy access companies play a critical role in delivering clean, affordable, reliable energy without the need for grid infrastructure.
Governments know that reliable electricity is transformative and boosts economic productivity and expands opportunities for work and study, drives positive social, health and environmental outcomes and improves overall quality of life. It is hard and expensive to deploy it.
ZOLA Electric , formerly Off Grid Electric; in late December announced a USD 32.5 million facility from FMO, the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank; and Symbiotics, a leading investment firm specialized in emerging, sustainable and inclusive finance, to finance the growth of ZOLA’s Tanzania operations over the next 5 years.
FMO is the lead arranger in the financing package that will grow ZOLA Electric’s service delivery in Tanzania, helping an additional 145,500 households to access energy in areas with no grid infrastructure. The investment is also expected to create around 2,100 new jobs in off-grid solar. ZOLA currently powers more than 1,000,000 customers across 5 countries and employs more than 1,000 people.
Despite the rapid growth of ZOLA Electric’s sector, there is still significant unmet need and untapped potential. There is growing recognition of the potential for distributed renewable energy to disrupt power supply and the sector is attracting significant investment interest.
According to Bill Lenihan, Co-CEO, ZOLA Electric, “We are excited to announce this new investment from FMO and Symbiotics. It will allow us to connect more people in Tanzania, support the communities in which we operate and continue the development of our industry-leading power systems.”
Apart from its expansion in Tanzania, ZOLA Electric has also announced a Global Climate Action Summit pledge to expand clean energy access in Nigeria, a country powered by fossil fuel powered generators.
Nigeria is a rapidly expanding economic powerhouse, however its electrical grid is unable to meet its citizens’ basic energy demands. Power from the grid is unreliable and expensive and this has driven more than 100 million Nigerians to rely on diesel generators to power their basic energy needs in their homes or apartments. ZOLA’s initial target is to deliver clean energy access to 1 million households and businesses in Nigeria over the next three years.
ZOLA’s expansion will allow Nigerian consumers to access cost effective solar + storage systems as alternatives to diesel generators. ZOLA’s energy access model combines PAYGo micro-finance leasing and mobile money payments to offer solar + storage for a monthly price that is less than the average energy outlay on diesel generators in Nigeria.
The firm aims to expand its PAYGo distributed solar energy model and launch an affordable renewable energy alternative available to Nigerians. ZOLA’s target is to deliver clean energy access to 1 million households and businesses in Nigeria over the next three years. This ambitious expansion is focussed on delivering Global Climate Action Summit goals of energy access and driving the transition to clean renewable energy.
“Our objective, and expectation, at ZOLA is to displace fossil fuel generation through cost, convenience and carbon emission superiority,” said Bill Lenihan, Co-CEO at ZOLA Electric.
ZOLA’s expansion will allow Nigerian consumers to access solar energy and storage for a monthly price that is less than the average energy outlay on diesel generators. By combining PAYGo micro-finance leasing and mobile money payments, ZOLA’s energy access model is adaptable to energy need and income and promotes financial inclusion.
The first few watts start a chain reaction that enables people to achieve commonly held aspirations: security, education and access to information. Energy access is a key precursor for the economic and educational empowerment of women and girls. Reliable solar energy can help Nigerians to light their homes, power small businesses and stay connected by harnessing the clean, renewable power of the sun.
According to Chris Wurdemann, Vice President of Corporate Finance, ZOLA Electric,“ZOLA’s technologically advanced product offering and innovative business model have attracted an incredible group of strategic and capital partners. FMO and Symbiotics join a roster of strategic and capital partners that is the strongest in the industry, including Tesla, Total, EDF, DBL Partners, Helios Investment Partners, GE Ventures and SunFunder.”
Next to the current financing, FMO provided Technical Assistance to ZOLA, to put a credit scoring system in place. The FMO-arranged senior loan will consist of USD 5 million from the Access to Energy Fund (AEF), which catalyses the investment of USD 12.5 million from FMO-A and USD 15 million from Symbiotics. The tenor of the loan is five years.
ZOLA Electric borrows the money in its local currency, the Tanzanian shilling.
“The off-grid sector is developing fast and receiving increased attention from investors but is still perceived as high risk; few players have reached profitability. ZOLA Electric Tanzania has a dedicated and professional management team and is well on the way on its path towards profitability,” said Rosemarijn van der Meij, Fund manager of the Access to Energy Fund (AEF), managed by FMO. ” This transaction fits FMO’s inclusive business and green strategy as well as the core theme in the strategy of the Access to Energy Fund: providing access to energy for the unreached rural communities.”
In July last year, ZOLA Electric formerly known as Off Grid Electric raised $20 million in new debt financing from SunFunder and a values-aligned family office to support its continued expansion across Africa and bring affordable, accessible and reliable solar energy to an additional 25,000 customers in four countries.
In the January the same year, the firm secured $55 million in Series D funding led by Helios with support from GE Ventures and existing investors to expand across Africa. The firm said it use the funds to expand in West Africa by offering off-grid solar solutions to households in Ghana and support its continued expansion and new product development.
In 2016, Off Grid Electric secured $10 million from Helios Investment Partners and $8 million in debt financing from a lending group led by responsAbility to provide millions in Africa with clean and sustainable solar energy.
Totaling $18 million, this funding will enable Off Grid Electric to continue on the path to solving the energy access problem in Africa.
In December 2015, the firm raised $45 million in debt financing from the Packard Foundation, Ceniarth, Calvert Foundation among others. The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Development Innovation Ventures topped the fund with $5 million.
In October 2015, the firm raised a $25 million Series Cround led by DBL Partners, SolarCity, Western Technology Investment, Paul Allen, Omidyar Network, Serious Change LP and Vulcan Capital while in 2014 the firm raised $23 million.
Zola Electric has approximately $218.5 or more for its African expansion.
Just two days ago, (March 13th 2019), ZOLA Electric announced the INFINITY autonomous power grid.INFINITY combines smart storage + solar technology to deliver clean, affordable, reliable 24/7 AC power for anyone, anywhere. INFINITY is the first distributed power system adaptable to off-grid, weak grid and microgrid use cases.
INFINITY is a smart storage product to deliver clean, affordable, reliable 24/7 AC power for anyone, anywhere. This announcement comes on the heels of the appointment of Lyndon and Peter Rive, co-founders of SolarCity, now Tesla Energy, to board and advisory roles at ZOLA.
Designed in California, INFINITY is positioned to displace Nigeria’s mass reliance on diesel generators by bringing to market a cost-effective clean energy alternative. The INFINITY power system uses smart storage technology to store solar or grid power generated during the day, and autonomously deliver the most efficient power source whenever it is needed. The INFINITY power system is a smart, sustainable, reliable, cost-effective alternative to diesel generators.
In Nigeria, there is rapid urban growth and the electrical grid is unable to meet its citizens’ basic energy demands. Grid infrastructure simply cannot deliver reliable 24/7 power for millions of homes and businesses. Power from the grid is unreliable and expensive and power outages and surges are frequent.
Diesel generators have become the default stop-gap response for basic power needs. Despite cost, inconvenience and air pollution, Nigeria now has more diesel generators per capita than anywhere else in the world. More than 100 million Nigerians use diesel generators daily, which costs the country nearly $14 billion each year and creates massive environmental problems and adverse health effects from air pollution. Diesel generators in Nigeria produce about 29 million metric tons of CO2 each year – the emissions equivalent of roughly 6.3 million passenger vehicles.
INFINITY’s smart storage technology delivers clean, affordable, reliable 24/7 power across the energy spectrum – from homes and businesses with weak grid connections to off-grid areas where energy infrastructure is non-existent.
Lyndon Rive, Chairman: “Solar City changed the way we access sustainable solar power in developed markets. With ZOLA, we are now facing the challenge and opportunity of bringing sustainable power to emerging markets. Africa is embracing the opportunity to adopt a smarter and more sustainable way to generate, store and use energy. ZOLA’s new technology platform will enable countries around the world to leapfrog the electric grid with distributed renewable energy.”