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Fenix International joins Power Africa’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ Initiative as a Founding Partner

Power Africa logo

Today, the U.S. Government is formally launching an innovative framework under President Obama’s Power Africa initiative to increase energy access for underserved populations across sub-Saharan Africa. Over an initial five year period, Beyond the Grid will leverage partnerships with 27 investors and practitioners, including Fenix International, committing to invest over $1 billion into off-grid and small scale solutions for this underserved market. These private sector commitments will help Power Africa meet and exceed its commitment to provide access to 20 million new connections for households and commercial entities, providing electricity to millions of households in sub-Saharan Africa.

Off-grid and small scale energy solutions that generate electricity closer to end users will also bolster productive uses of energy and income generation. By partnering with investors, practitioners, and donors, Beyond the Grid will mobilize new resources, technologies, and expertise to address access to electricity issues in sub-Saharan Africa.

As a Founding Partner of Power Africa’s ‘Beyond the Grid’ initiative, Fenix International intends to:

  • Advance the Beyond the Grid goal of providing access to clean, reliable energy, seeking to sell and distribute over 1 million off-grid solar power systems in Africa by 2018. This will directly benefit at least 5 million people, provide access to mobile communications to over 15 million people and deliver 1.1 billion cell phone charges and 1.4 billion hours of clean LED light each year.
  • Expand its activities in Uganda as well as two Power Africa Countries: Tanzania and Kenya. In particular, Fenix will expand access to affordable solar power for households and entrepreneurs via our ReadyPay Solar Power System which leverages mobile payments to deliver clean energy for as little as $0.39 per day.
  • In order to distribute 1 million off-grid solar power systems, work with Power Africa partners, private investors, and banks to catalyze over $287 million in consumer finance to make solar affordable for customers who currently lack electricity.

These planned activities are aligned with the goals of Beyond the Grid under Power Africa to increase access to clean, reliable power in Africa, and are expected to increase the quantity of power available to 1 million households by at least 15 MWs, directly benefitting over 5 million people and providing mobile phone access to over 15 million people via 1.1 billion cell phone charges each year and delivering over 1.4 billion hours of clean LED light each year. This ambitious vision requires an elevated partnership built around concrete commercial and developmental interests.

Power Africa Commitments“Beyond the Grid will help to expand the work the U.S. Government is already doing through Power Africa to bring electricity to citizens of sub-Saharan Africa,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “With close to 600 million people without access to modern-day electricity, it is clear that centralized grid access is not a comprehensive solution for these countries in one of the world’s least urban continents. But through solutions including off-grid and small scale energy projects, we can bring electricity to these rural areas.”

Building on the Power Africa initiative’s support for a number of distinct small scale energy projects and small scale solutions across African markets, Beyond the Grid will advance the policy and regulatory frameworks necessary to overcome recurring constraints in the small scale energy space. The framework will also create an effective enabling environment with increasing access to financial and technical assistance historically not available to small energy businesses. Additionally, the framework will incorporate new financial tools such as investment structures that blend donor and private capital, aggregating and de-risking small energy projects in Africa and making them available as a new asset class for investment at scale. The founding partners of the Beyond the Grid include:

Acumen Fund
Bamboo Finance
Capricorn Investment Group
Embark Energy
Energiya Global
Fenix International
Global Off-Grid Lighting Association
Gray Ghost Ventures
Invested Development
Khosla Impact
LGT Venture Philanthropy
Liberia Energy Network
Low Carbon Enterprise Fund
Off Grid Electric
Persistent Energy Partners
Schneider Electric
Shell Foundation
Solar Sister
Tony Elumelu Foundation
United Nations Foundation
Virunga Power

Building on the Beyond the Grid framework, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) has teamed up with GE Africa and USAID to launch the Power Africa Off-Grid Energy Challenge, designed to meet the needs of communities not served by the traditional grid. This grant challenge, open from now until June 20, will award up to $1.8 million in grant funding to African-managed and –owned enterprises with renewable energy solutions. This second round of the Challenge is an expansion to all 6 Power Africa countries, from the first round awarded in November 2013, of $600K in grant funding for renewable energy business models in Kenya and Nigeria.

Formally launched by President Obama in June 2013, Power Africa is the U.S. Government’s transaction-based development approach to increase access to power in sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative has already helped close almost 2,800 MW worth of transactions and has secured commitments for another 5,000 MW, representing almost 75 percent of the initial goal of bringing an additional 10,000 MW of cleaner, more reliable energy to Power Africa’s six focus countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria and Tanzania – and adding 20 million electrical connections for households and commercial entities. To date, Power Africa has leveraged more than $15 billion from the private sector for new on, mini and off-grid projects in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read official press release from US Department of Energy

Fenix media contact: press@fenixintl.com

Happy Mothers’ Day!

Today we’re celebrating the mothers using solar to power safer lighting and energy income to transform their lives with a new video.  Happy Mothers’ Day!

Lease To Own Energy

MTN subscribers in Uganda use ReadyPay to power phones, lights, and radio

From NextBillion:

With 1.3 billion living without electricity worldwide, the global need for off-grid energy solutions is massive. People living off-grid, spend an estimated $38 billion on kerosene for lighting and $10 billion on phone charging each year.

Fenix International, where I serve as Business Development Director, was founded in 2009 with the mission to bring affordable energy solutions to people in emerging markets and improve their quality of life. Thanks in part to the tools provided by digital finance, we’ve been able to offer products that these customers need, at prices they can afford – and as the mobile money ecosystem has evolved, so has our product line.

Read full article.

Announcing the Fenix Luna Power Module


Luna Module – 12W. Peak power delivered during a full moon near midnight.

Today, San Francisco solar startup Fenix International unveiled revolutionary plans for a major advancement in photovoltaic technology: the Luna Power Module, which captures energy from the moon’s lunar rays.

“Years ago, during a full moon, we asked ourselves, ‘Why do we only use solar panels during the day?’  Since then, we’ve been working night and day to develop a panel that could work using lunar radiation,” says Fenix Founder & CEO, Mike Lin. “We believe that drawing power from moonlight via a lunar panel will be a real game changer.”

Since its founding in 2009, Fenix has been growing a large solar customer base in East Africa, a region where 85 of 100 million people live without electricity.  Fortunately, this region is ideally situated to draw maximum solar power.  Near the equator, the sun shines nearly 12 hours per day and panel alignment is easy. However, solar has a fatal flaw: it does not work at night, when many people recharge their mobile phones, TOS phasers and other devices.

Hybrid Luna/Solar Module. 8.5W solar, 6W lunar for 24 hour operation.

Hybrid Luna/Solar Module. 8.5W solar, 6W lunar for 24 hour operation.

Fenix will launch two versions of its Luna product line in late 2014, the Luna Power Module and a ground-breaking Hybrid Luna/Solar Module which captures the rays of both the sun and moon to provide 24/7 power.  “Currently, the Luna’s charging efficiencies are lower than its solar counterparts,” says Senior Mechanical Engineer Paul Jehlen, who led Luna product development.  “However, we expect that as our technology matures, the Luna will be 7-10 times more efficient than photovoltaic modules at half the cost.”

The company expects the lunar panel market to build momentum quickly, turning the tide by early next year.  While Fenix Luna Modules are poised to disrupt the East African solar market, analysts are already bullish about the technology’s potential to eclipse solar markets in the US, China, and Europe.  Fenix’s Co-Founder and COO Brian Warshawsky says the company remains committed to its mission.  “Our primary focus will continue to be on the 1.3 billion people who live without electricity in emerging markets, serving them with ReadyPay Solar, a lease-to-own power system that enables customers to purchase clean renewable energy through micropayments on their mobile phones.” says Warshawsky. “However, we will look to grow our clean lunar energy technology and expand to industrialized nations as our bandwidth allows.”

…Happy April Fool’s Day!  Apollo-gises if we caused any confusion or got your hopes up for a lunar panel.  We wish this moonshot idea were true, because it would be pretty cool…

Uganda’s Newest Utility: Pay-as-you-go Solar Power

From VOA News:

KAMPALA — In Uganda, telecom provider MTN and a company called Fenix are gearing up this year for a nationwide rollout of pre-paid electricity, similar to pre-paid airtime, but using solar kits. Uganda has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa – a continent where some 600 million people are off the power grid.

The village of Kiwumu lies less than 32 kilometers from the Ugandan capital, Kampala. But the bright lights of the city seem worlds away. Like the vast majority of Uganda, Kiwumu is off the electrical grid, and teacher Michael Mugerwa does not expect things to change any time soon.

Read full article.