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The State of the Global Off-Grid Appliance Market

Global markets for clean energy technologies such as solar lanterns and solar home systems have grown phenomenally over the past few years, benefiting millions of un-electrified people globally. Yet, these markets have largely provided only basic electrification services so far—typically power to charge a mobile phone and one or two lights for four to six hours a day. This is consistent across solution types, whether it is solar portable lights, solar home systems, and even small-scale mini- and micro-grids. While the growth of markets delivering these basic services is a huge achievement and a critical first step in the energy access ladder, capturing the true socio-economic benefits of access to electricity will require provision of higher levels of energy services to off-grid consumers to improve livelihoods, health, and education.

A major challenge to delivering these life-transforming energy services is the fact that mainstream appliances, equipment and other end-use technologies consume too much power to be cost-effectively supported by available off-grid energy supply technologies. The good news is that just as LED-enabled off-grid solar lighting emerged a few years ago, a new class of energy-efficient appliances is becoming available. Smarter designs, technological spillovers from developed energy markets, and falling prices are enabling the emergence of new classes of energy-efficient appliances built with off-grid energy systems in mind. These super-efficient off-grid appliances, such as televisions, fans and refrigerators, consume a fraction of the power required by mainstream versions, reducing the overall costs of providing service. For example, Global LEAP-supported research shows that coupling solar home systems with super-efficient appliances, including a TV, fan, mobile charger, and LED lights, requires 75% less power and reduces overall costs by as much as 50%.

This report – sponsored by the Global Lighting and Energy Access Partnership (Global LEAP), a Clean Energy Ministerial initiative led by the U.S. Department of Energy – seeks to deepen our understanding of the current state of this burgeoning off-grid appliance market, explore key market trends and areas of future opportunity, and explore linkages and interdependencies with existing off-grid clean energy markets.

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