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Comprehensive report illustrates large market opportunity and demand for low-cost, low-carbon renewable energy across Africa.

 For Immediate Release – July 30, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Today, the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) released its latest market review, titled Renewable Energy in Sub-Saharan Africa: Opportunities and Challenges. The report details opportunities presented by emerging markets and offers insights on advancing project development in the region.

“Two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s population, more than 600 million people, do not have access to electricity,” said Dan Reicher, interim President and CEO of ACORE and Executive Director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy & Finance at Stanford University. “Renewables – both centralized and distributed – are a cost-effective solution for emerging economies that seek the economic, environmental, and security benefits of clean energy.”

ACORE’s wide-ranging membership contributed significantly to the report, with sections from BrightSource Energy, Covington & Burling, First Solar, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and Powerhive. The report focuses in particular on 400 GW of undeveloped hydropower potential, 17 GW of geothermal potential, as well as immense untapped solar, wind, biomass, and ocean energy resources.

“South Africa was one of the best-performing countries in the world for renewables investment in the first quarter of 2015, attracting $3.1 billion USD,” said Joe Desmond, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Government Affairs for BrightSource Energy. “We are excited about the opportunity for concentrating solar power with thermal energy storage to meet the region’s growing need for flexible, reliable clean energy.

Sub-topics in the review include: “Financing for Renewable Energy Solutions in Africa’s Off-Grid Market,” “South Africa: Leading the Way Forward For CSP,” “East Africa’s Geothermal Resources: Development Through Regional Integration,” and “Case Study: Microgrid Regulation for Energy Access in Emerging Markets.” ACORE also provides a comprehensive market review, which examines the state of financing and policy development around the broader African energy industry. This includes President Barack Obama’s Power Africa initiative, led by USAID to increase the number of people with access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

“One area of particular interest to the finance community, and in support of the goals laid forth by the Power Africa initiative, is portfolio financing for small projects,” said Lynn Tabernacki, Managing Director of Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). “Looking beyond the traditional finance structures can yield attractive returns for investors while also delivering meaningful progress for a sub-Saharan region that’s looking to grow its access to energy for economic advancement.”

“Unleashing the enormous potential of East Africa’s geothermal resources could do much to address the severe power deficit in this region, and in an environmentally-friendly way,” said Earl Gast, Senior International Advisor for Covington & Burling’s Africa Initiative. “In comparison with other power projects, the development of geothermal power projects can have higher risks, but there are ways to mitigate them.  To attract the private capital necessary to exploit this resource, governments and donors need to act regionally and adopt best practices.”

"Microgrids are ideal vehicles to expand access to energy worldwide, but microgrid growth at scale depends on policy environments that enable and support off-grid energy development,” said Christopher Hornor, President and CEO of Powerhive. “In our experience scaling microgrid applications in Kenya, distribution concessions were key in proving that grid-quality service can be delivered at reasonable cost in off-grid areas.”

“ACORE is excited to see its members leading on African energy access and development,” said Risa Edelman, director of ACORE’s International Initiative. “As renewable energy costs continue to fall, energy access becomes increasingly within reach for millions, especially in remote locations. ACORE is seeing a wide range of financing and development solutions available that include everything from microgrids to solar to small hydro to help power the world’s emerging economies.” 

ACORE’s International Initiative is generously supported by BrightSource Energy, IBM, and McDermott Will & Emery, and serves as a hub for exchanging knowledge and identifying opportunities in this field among businesses, governments, and other organizations throughout the globe.

To access ACORE’s report, please click here:


About ACORE:
ACORE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit membership organization, is dedicated to building a secure and prosperous America with clean, renewable energy. ACORE seeks to advance renewable energy through finance, policy, technology, and market development and is concentrating its member focus in 2015 on National Defense & Security, Power Generation & Infrastructure, and Transportation. Additional information is available at

ACORE Media Contact:
Kevin Haley, ACORE, (202) 777-7584

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