Over the years we’ve expanded our reach from Chicago to cities all around the country. This year, we reached even farther … all the way across the world!
In 2020, Elevator Elizabeth Judson joined a working group of experts at the Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, using her solar expertise to support the GreenStreet Africa Development Company project. The Lab identifies, develops, and launches sustainable finance instruments with the potential to drive massive investment in a low-carbon economy.
What is GreenStreet Africa?
GreenStreet Africa develops and aggregates portfolios of distributed solar projects at public health and education facilities for implementation by private energy companies like IPPs or ESCOs, financed with local capital markets solutions.
Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the largest energy access gaps on the planet, with less than half of the region’s population having access to reliable electricity. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and health clinics require reliable electricity connections to provide critical patient care. As the energy industry “builds back better,” focusing on rural electrification is a key priority.
Advancing Solar Energy Globally
So, what’s a Chicago-based nonprofit like Elevate doing working on a project in Sub-Saharan Africa?
“Elevate has a specific expertise in low-income solar development that other organizations can learn from,” said Elizabeth. “This project is a way for us to share that expertise internationally so it is helping more communities.”
Our experience building solar opportunities through Illinois Solar for All and solar training programs has made us a leader in understanding the unique and specific needs that low-income and rural communities have with solar energy. As solar development grows around the world, we want to share what we’ve learned with other organizations so that they can incorporate our learnings into their projects.
How Does GreenStreet Make Solar Energy Investments Worthwhile?
Funding for solar panel installation can be challenging. While funds exist for solar panel installation, most grants don’t cover ongoing operations and maintenance – meaning the solar panels don’t last their full life cycle.
That’s where Elevate’s expertise comes in. Through our experience administering solar programs, we’ve learned a lot about the ongoing operations and maintenance of solar systems and the organizational capacity needed to effectively support systems in low-income communities. It’s critical to ensure that operational work and maintenance, particularly regarding inverter replacement, are included in funding and supply contracts to ensure climate and energy access impact benefits are obtained for the entirety of the projected system life.