Energy access | Multiple (including Colombia, India and Nigeria) | Test and Transition
The development problem: Over a billion people lack access to any form of electricity. An additional billion people who are nominally connected to grids experience frequent power outages and unreliable service, especially for those based in more rural, remote communities. Lack of access and unreliable access leads to the continued use of unsafe alternatives such as kerosene, and barriers to broader economic growth.
The innovation: SparkMeter sells a proprietary smart metering technology and associated software and services to central grid utilities and microgrids to enable real-time monitoring of grid systems, pay-as-you-go electricity usage, and load control to prevent grid outages. SparkMeter is based in the United States but has connected thousands of customers in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
GIF’s investment: GIF’s $600k loan will help SparkMeter establish a full suite of certified meters that can scale to both microgrids and central grid utilities. For this phase of growth, the focus of the financing will be primarily for R&D and business development for several large utility grids, with a target of selling 50,000 meters by end-2017.
Why we invested:
- Important development problem – 1bn lack formal access to electricity, and 1bn have nominal grid access but lack reliable electricity
- Promising commercial traction with mini grids and potential for scale impact by proving out that the technology works for large central grid utilities
- Rich data collection from SparkMeter’s technology will enable sector learnings
- Strong team – deep experience in energy, electrical engineering and cloud software