- ISA has launched the SolarX Grand Challenge to support innovative solar startups in Africa
- 20 startups and innovators will be awarded $15,000 cash grant each and also supported with mentorship and investor connects
- It aims to reduce the gap between energy demand and supply while mobilizing private investment
The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is offering a $300,000 cash grant to select 20 startups and innovators from across Africa to bring in innovation and disruption in the solar sector that can help accelerate solar adoption in Africa under a new SolarX Grand Challenge.
“With an estimated potential of 7,900 GW of solar in Africa, and only 4 African nations having a start-up ecosystem, there is a yawning gap between what is needed and what is available,” said ISA Director General, Dr Ajay Mathur. “With SolarX, we aim to change this scenario. This initiative will also help in implementing the roadmap to mobilize $1 trillion for solar till 2030.”
Launched at the UNFCCC’s 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) in Egypt, the challenge aims to promote the solar energy sector, attract investments, reduce the gap of energy supply and demand, and promote a strong startup ecosystem on the African continent.
Under the 1st edition, the broad spectrum of topics or ‘problem statements’ covered will span technical or financial innovations to boost off-grid solar to displace fossil-fuels, bring down the cost of grid integration of rooftop solar systems, integrate solar with multiple uses as agrivoltaics to save land and boost small holder incomes, manufacturing to lower the cost or improve efficiency of solar or ancillary equipment, among others.
Innovative applications of solar power to emerging use cases as e-mobility, floating solar or green hydrogen also form part of the subject areas, as do commercial innovations for inverter supply.
The competition is open to participants that are generating monthly revenue from operations, should have a minimum viable product and/or service explicitly related to innovation. Winners will be incentivized through cash grant worth $15,000 each for 20 startups and with acceleration support in the form of market access, investor and mentorship connects.
For the challenge, ISA has partnered with the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency of India called Invest India and the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies (WAIPA).
Last date to submit applications is by March 31, 2023. Submissions will be evaluated in April 2023 and winners announced in June 2023, according to details of the competition available on Government of India’s Invest India website.
A Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BloombergNEF) report recently stated that in 2021 renewable energy investment was its lowest in the last 11 years in Africa and that international investment here needs to go up, with local participation (see RE Investment Dropped To 11-Year Low In Africa In 2021).
Recently, the ISA also announced a $10 million grant agreement with the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) to boost deployment of solar energy in developing countries.