Singapore-based IIX Growth Fund has anchored a $1.66-million Series A round in SOLshare, a Bangladeshi off-grid solar energy firm that seeks to increase clean energy for over 19,000 households in the country.
IIX Growth Fund, a social and environmental impact fund backed by Singapore-based Impact Investment Exchange (IIX), marks its first Bangladesh investment in SOLshare, which also received investment from Silicon Valley-based Innogy New Ventures and Portuguese utility firm EDP. IIX also supported SOLshare as a mentor in 2012.
SOLshare, established in 2015 by Sebastian Groh, established the world’s first peer-to-peer solar energy grid in remote area of Bangladesh. Its decentralised peer-to-peer microgrids deliver solar power to households and businesses, and enable them to trade their excess electricity for profit.
“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,” SOLshare said.
The company said it will use the fresh funds 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.
“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,” Dr. Sebastian Groh, Managing Director of SOLshare
According to the company, Bangladesh has five million solar home systems installed more than any other country in the world. However, more than half of the country’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,” it said.
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.
The IIX Growth Fund was launched by IIX to make direct equity investments in impact enterprises in select under-served emerging and frontier markets in South and Southeast Asia.
It focuses on investments that are either owned by women or have a significant positive impact on women, address climate change issues and enable access to healthcare, education and other critical needs for marginalized communities.