Off-grid solar technologies provide life-changing access to modern energy services for people and communities currently living without electricity. The global market for these products is nascent but growing quickly. In 2017, the off-grid solar sector provided new or enhanced access to energy for an estimated 73 million households – over 360 million people – with significant year-over-year growth expected into the future.
E-waste generated by the off-grid solar sector represents less than 0.1% of global e-waste streams, but investment now will ensure the industry’s growth is sustainable over the long term and further enhance the sector’s reputation as a leader in environmental responsibility.
Off-grid industry leaders are exploring potential e-waste management solutions, such as product repair initiatives and preventative maintenance, but these efforts remain nascent and under-resourced. The Global LEAP Awards recognizes the role of waste reduction in the initial product design stage, and seeks to support more sustainable product design as part of broader efforts to promote sustainable solar e-waste management across the off-grid sector.
The second Global LEAP Solar E-Waste Challenge, supported by USAID, made $1.2 million in grant funding available to support the research and development of more sustainable solar home system and battery technologies for the off-grid solar sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The winning innovations extend product and/or component lifespan; enhance product repairability and recyclability; facilitate refurbishment, reuse or repurposing; or reduce rare metal and hazardous material composition.
The Awardees received funding to support implementation of their proposed projects over a 18-month period, with individual awards ranging from $50,000-$300,000. The application window is now closed.
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