The state of the off-grid appliance market

With over two billion people worldwide lacking access to reliable electricity, the global off-grid appliance market is critical for increasing access to electricity and services. In particular, renewable energy technologies like the fast-growing solar portable lamps and solar home systems are helping to bridge the gap.

According to Global LEAP, the markets for renewable/hybrid mini-grids are still quite nascent, and they also show promise with better potential for higher loads. While the desire to power larger electrical appliances has in part driven the growth in off-grid energy solutions, most off-grid solutions sold today provide only basic, low-power energy services, such as lighting and mobile phone charging. Under-electrified households often cannot afford or access enough energy to power additional services, such as cooling, refrigeration, and entertainment.

However, we know from the purchasing behavior of electrified households in the same income segment that demand for these appliances is very high. Just as LEDs revolutionized the off-grid lighting market by dramatically increasing efficiency and reducing energy costs, increasing the viability of the under-electrified appliance market will require additional innovations in cost-effectiveness, energy efficiency, and market availability. Promoting off-grid appliances beyond lighting and cooking is important to further drive social impact.

Country-level data and surveys in key markets all point to televisions, cooling, and refrigeration as the next priority for households after satisfying basic lighting and communication needs. These appliances can significantly improve the quality of life for under-electrified households by enhancing productivity, increasing social awareness, and facilitating improved livelihoods.

That said, awareness and understanding of the off-grid appliance market is limited, and a need exists to advance the global discussion. In addition to energy supply and access, the conversation on energy usage in under-electrified markets has largely focused on opportunities for lighting, cooking, and mobile phone charging. Efforts to deliver these services can now serve as a springboard for expanding focus on a wider set of applications.

Evidence shows that an improved understanding of the off-grid appliance market will lead to opportunities for new and existing market players. Clean Energy Ministerial’s Global LEAP, CLASP, and Dalberg explore in a new report three off-grid appliance product categories—fans, televisions, and refrigerators—that present significant short- to mid-term opportunities. Beginning with an estimation of the potential global demand and growth projections for these product categories, the report then explores key trends on the supply and demand side of the market that underpin these projections.

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