According to data from 2019, there are approximately 770 million people around the globe who are still without access to electricity. That's about 10% of the world's population, and in sub-saharan Africa that number rises to over 50%. Access to clean electricity is not only a prerequisite for the vast electrification needed to accomplish global climate goals, but is also enshrined in SDG7 as a key goal for making the world healthy and prosperous for all.
With a mission to improve access to reliable and sustainable energy for households and SMEs across emerging markets in sub-saharan Africa, MPower has this goal square in sight as they take a business-centered approach to building and financing solar solutions in some of the places that need it most. This economic development is closely tied to local SMEs, which is why MPower works closely with local businesses and distributors to empower the next generation of local entrepreneurs to take electrification and development into their own hands.
Image: MPower head of partnerships Sophie Meierhofer and local store manager Mercy Phiri in Chipata, Zambia
As a core business, MPower provides plug and play solar products, energy-efficient and productive use solar appliances, software to track and digitize operations while generating insightful data, and financing to both B2B partners as well as end-users on a lease-to-own basis. By supplying and financing solar energy systems to households and SMEs in Zambia, Cameroon, Togo and Botswana, MPower has built on this success and recently expanded to Ghana and Namibia as well. Next to the core business, MPower has also deployed three Energy HUBs in Zambia and Togo. The HUB is a fully connected, mobile plug and play solar container that generates 8 to 10kW of clean energy, and also doubles as a charging station for small solar generators. In addition to charging solar batteries, the HUB serves as a meeting center and marketplace for local communities.
Image: Country manager Xavier Kordus pictured after MPower's expansion into Namibia
"At MPower we are convinced that solar solutions are one of the most effective ways to boost economic development in emerging markets and fight energy poverty." - Manuel Seiffe, co-founder and CEO of MPower
Alongside its core business, MPower projects will generate Decentralized Renewable Energy Certificates (D-RECs). D-RECs are a new innovative finance instrument that provide a proof of origin for power generated by small-scale renewable energy systems. This is an especially interesting opportunity for companies that want to go above and beyond their corporate renewable energy goals or RE100 commitments, as DRECs offer a standardized way of financing decentralized solar projects and bringing energy access to communities living off the grid in rural areas. By connecting corporate sustainability ambition and small-scale distributed renewable energy projects, the D-REC platform provides the means to accelerate new investment and results-based climate finance in the distributed renewable energy sector globally.
South Pole has been a lead investor in MPower since 2020 and is also a main partner in the D-REC Initiative, a collaboration of global leaders that aims to unlock untapped forms of climate finance to close the energy access funding gap and increase the adoption of renewables. With its extensive experience developing carbon projects, South Pole is actively working within the D-REC Initiative to develop the mechanisms to certify D-RECs from on-the-ground activities like those carried out by MPower.
"It is incredible that millions of people across Africa still have no access to sustainable energy" says Renat Heuberger, CEO of South Pole. "And solar energy is such a no-brainer: it's clean, reliable and abundant - and it costs a fraction of the dirty diesel burners that most communities use to this day. This is the type of climate innovation we like!"
Building on their past success, MPower has recently launched an additional funding round on crowdcube which achieved its funding goal in the first week, demonstrating that their approach of targeting local SMEs and combining it with the prospect of channelling investment from D-RECs directly to communities level is working.
For companies interested in investing in D-RECs or looking for more details on the opportunities related to the D-REC Initiative, please get in touch with our South Pole experts on how you can join the growing list of companies committed to increasing renewable energy rollout within their own operations and around the world.