Officials from the African Union and African Development Bank have announced a goal of delivering at least 300 gigawatts of power to the continent by 2030 — all from clean energy. That would be an addition of two times as much electricity as is currently generated in all African nations now from all power sources combined. VIA WASHINGTON POST


—Twaha Twagirimana, plant supervisor at East Africa’s first major solar energy installation, occupying more than 42 acres. How long did it take Rwanda to construct this new solar farm with over 28,000 solar panels, providing 350 local jobs and energy for 15,000 residents? It’s been called “the fastest project in Africa,” because the build-out took just five months. Bella Kabatesi is a teen who lives in Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, which shares space with and leases land to the solar farm. Revenue from the installation has provided support for orphaned children like her who live there, many of whom lost their parents during the Rwandan conflict. Kabatesi appreciates access to renewable power because it allowed her to illuminate a monument she created in tribute to her community’s founder, who has since passed away. “The big solar plant is going to help the people and the country because it’s cheaper than main electrical power,” Kabatesi said. VIA THE GUARDIAN

Over half of global investments in clean energy occurred in developing countries in 2014, according to Climatescope 2015 from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In another first, renewables capacity added in emerging markets in 2014 exceeded that in OECD nations. Developing countries added a total of 50.4 gigawatts combined, a 21% increase over the prior year. VIA BLOOMBERG and PUBLIC FINANCE INTERNATIONAL

—Rehema Kanama, who lives off the grid in a rural western Uganda. Kanama, a single mother, is making affordable monthly payments toward fully owning her new home solar system, which replaced an inefficient kerosene set-up. “The children are very happy,” Kanama said, because her three children are now able to use the more reliable lighting to complete their homework assignments. VIA AFRICA TIMES

In a recent energy auction in Chile, solar farms offered to provide power for three-fourths the price of coal. Renewable energy projects won every contract. Deutsche Bank says this may lead to more than 1 gigawatt of new solar installed in Chile this year, helping the country to reach its 45 percent renewables target. VIA BLOOMBERG


The village of Entasopia is five hours from Nairobi and, like two-thirds of Kenya’s population, does not have access to the national power grid. But a solar microgrid in the village connects houses and businesses to central PV panels by underground cable, providing power more cheaply than diesel or kerosene. Bar owner Peter Okoth says he now has 11 light bulbs and enough power to run a TV and sound system. His profits will soon buy a refrigerator. Nancy Kaisa uses solar power to pump fuel at her filling station, explaining “I had a diesel generator before, but this is much cheaper and easier.” SteamaCo has 25 village grids across Kenya and uses smart meters and a cloud-based system for payments and supplies. The microgrids provide “the amount and reliability of power that rural people want, which is enough to change their lives and livelihoods,” ENVIRONMENT 360 reports. (Photo: SteamaCo)

Odisha villagers - Natl Geo

— Prashant Mandal, who lives in Madhotanda in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state. About 20 million households in Uttar Pradesh lack electricity. For those on the grid, power is often only available only a few hours a day. Solar kits like the one Mandal leases from SimpaNetworks provide reliable power for two LED lights and a fan. Before solar kits were available for lease, Mandal said he had to carry a battery a kilometer back and forth to recharge it. “Sometimes battery acid would spill and burn me,” he says. “One time it spilled and burned right through the fabric of my pants — all for power.” VIA NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC (Photo: Rubén Salgado Escudero, National Geographic, showing villagers in India’s state of Odisha who trap fish using baskets and solar light.)


Morocco currently generates nearly all its power from fossil fuels, and people in rural areas face daily problems with reliability, “from flickering light bulbs to malfunctioning hospital equipment.” To address the reliability issues as well as vulnerability to fossil fuel price fluctuations, the country plans to meet 42% of its electricity demand through clean energy sources by 2020. The first phase of the Noor 1 concentrating solar plant located outside Ouarzazate is expected to be online within the next few weeks. It will be able to store energy for nights and cloudy days. VIA CNN (Photo: Jon Jensen/CNN)


Throughout Africa from Ivory Coast to Morocco to Kenya, major solar projects are sprouting, each helping provide access to the 600 million Africans who lack access to energy. “Energy is a major issue for the African continent, because someone who does not have access to energy cannot have access to health, telecommunications, or education,” said industry executive Alexandre Castel. While the solutions all contribute to a singular goal, leaders are not pursuing a one-size-fits-all approach. While Benin is banking on 100 small renewable power stations throughout the country, South Africa is planning the world’s most robust solar array, offering 1,500 MW of clean energy. VIA TURKISH WEEKLY (Photo: IBERDROLA)


–Sachi DeCou, whose company provides solar charging kiosks throughout Tanzania. Her firm is among many “solar-preneurs” working to provide energy to the 621 million Africans who lack electricity access. While renewable energy has already grown swiftly in the Middle East and North Africa, Tanzania is now one of several East African nations experiencing a boost in solar energy development. VIA FROST ILLUSTRATED


By 2017, 1 million of India’s most impoverished residents will have new access to energy, in the form of solar power systems. A social enterprise called ONergy will boost its current operations in the country to establish 50 new Renewable Energy Centres throughout East and Northeast India, creating 100 permanent jobs and training entrepreneurs in rural areas to offer customized solutions to local residents. The company is focusing on strategies to reach some of the most remote, impoverished areas. Their efforts will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 100,000 tons. VIA THE GUARDIAN (Photo: ONergy)


— Shama Bibi, who lives in a village outside Bahawalpur in Pakistan, on what solar-powered light has meant for her. She and women in 150 off-grid villages across Pakistan work with the Buksh Foundation to install solar charging stations and rent solar lights to local residents. Plans are in place to reach 4,000 villages by 2017. Gul Muhammad, a farmer in the village outside Bahawalpur, says solar has allowed him to cut his kerosene use and save 350 rupees ($3) a month. With portable light, “I can now work three to four hours extra on my farmland,” he said. “And this is helping increase my income too.” Nearly half of households in Pakistan are not connected to the grid, the large majority are in rural areas. VIA THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION (Photo: Buksh Foundation)

Solar projects awarded in the Middle East and North Africa last year increased ten-fold over the year prior, according to the Middle East Solar Industry Association. In 2015, more than 1,500 megawatts worth of solar will be tendered to meet rising electricity demands in the region. Morocco is on track to have 42% of its energy from renewables by 2020, with 2,000 MW from solar. Egypt is aiming for 2.3 gigawatts of solar by 2017. VIA GE

Bloomberg reports that in South Africa, the fifth-biggest producer of coal, solar and renewable power are gaining fast and helping the government ease blackouts. Starting with virtually no utility-scale solar a few years ago, South Africa now has more than 1,000 megawatts of solar capacity and will procure over 6,000 megawatts of renewables as part of the biggest surge in power capacity since the 1980s. Meanwhile, two coal-burning power plants now costing $17 billion are over budget and more than seven years behind schedule. VIA BLOOMBERG