Clean Energy

Increased supply and access to clean and reliable energy enables economic growth, job creation, improved living standards and mitigates climate change.

Key Achievements in 2020




New capacity financed, where of 695 renewable


New households gained access to electricity

Although most developing countries have considerable solar, wind and hydropower resources, the power sector is largely underdeveloped in terms of installed capacity, access to energy and per capita consumption.

Investments in clean energy generation enables economic growth, job creation and mitigates climate change. Better, more reliable energy supplies, resulting in fewer and shorter outages, are helping to foster job creation and economic growth as new businesses are established and productivity improves. Renewable energy can substitute fossil energy and mitigate climate change.

Contributing to increased access to electricity improves living standards by substituting other fuels and reducing indoor air pollution, providing access to quality lighting and electronic communication, and improving health care services, security and educational outcomes.

The World Bank has estimated a need for USD 900 billion in renewable energy investments by 2025 to meet the energy needs1 of developing countries.

The pandemic has also set back efforts to provide sustainable energy for all, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimating that the number of people living without access to electricity in Africa increased in 2020 for the first time in six years. The downturn in the economy as a result of COVID-19 made raising the capital needed to make the necessary investments particularly demanding.

Despite being home to 17 per cent of the world’s population, Africa currently accounts for just 4 per cent of global power supply investment. The demand for power in this region is expected to more than triple by 2040. The proportion of renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa’s power sector is less than 50 per cent of total production at present. To limit carbon emissions, new capacity will need to come mostly from clean energy sources. However, the generation of new, clean electricity is not expanding fast enough in high-risk and capital-constrained markets.

One of the key barriers to widening the deployment and diffusion of clean and renewable energy is the shortage of well-prepared, ‘bankable’ projects for investors. The journey from the planning and development of clean energy projects through to their implementation is complex and long. To ensure successful project completion, risk-tolerant and long-term investors, such as Norfund, are needed.

The majority of Norfund’s energy investments have been in hydropower, wind and solar energy, and in utility scale, grid-connected power plants.

After the sale of SN Power in 2020, hydropower will become a smaller part of the portfolio and we expect a more diversified technology mix in the portfolio going forward. 

Technological and regulatory changes are driving new opportunities and business models. Norfund is monitoring these developments and looking for new possibilities and solutions. Captive power, i.e. ‘behind the meter’, is on the rise, with industrial and commercial users increasingly looking at this option. In addition, off-grid and mini-grid solutions can provide households with alternatives to grid extension. Norfund has identified distributed generation as a growth area and is a leading investor in this rapidly changing and challenging market.

Norfund’s strategy is to invest with – or via – industrial partners. Approximately 1,000 MWp of solar power has been financed in partnership with Scatec. Norfund has a 30 per cent stake in Globeleq – one of Africa’s leading independent power companies currently having more than 1,400 MW of installed capacity, and another 2,000 MW in development. Following the sale of SN Power, we have a joint venture with Scatec to expand in hydropower in Africa.

In the coming years, we will continue to increase Norfund’s portfolio in renewable power generation in our target markets, building on existing investment platforms and partnerships.

Strategic ambitions

Norfund has defined the following ambitions for the strategy period 2019-2022:

  • 5,000 MW new capacity, of which 4000 MW is renewable
  • 1.5 million households provided with access to electricity

Accumulated achievements 2019 – 2020

Investments and Results in 2020

Clean Energy (CE) is the largest component of Norfund’s portfolio and accounts for 45 per cent of Norfund’s portfolio. The equity share of the total clean energy portfolio is 85 per cent.


committed in 2020


committed in total CE portfolio

Impact 2020

1,236 MW increased energy supply

In 2020, Norfund financed 1,236 MW of new electricity generation capacity.

The total capacity in our portfolio was 6,139 MW, of which 4,528 MW is renewable and 1,047 MW is under construction. The power plants produced a total of 17.5 TWh of electricity, an amount equivalent to the combined annual electricity consumption of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya.

659 MW of new capacity from renewable sources

In 2020, 56 per cent of the new capacity financed, 659 MW, was renewable. A total of 4,781 MW of the capacity in our portfolio is from renewable sources.

Together, the renewable power plants in our current portfolio have contributed to avoiding an estimated 5.7 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020. This has been calculated using the harmonized IFI approach: 'GHG Accounting for Grid Connected Renewable Energy projects'.

Increased access to energy

1,853,000 new households were provided with access to  electricity through mini-grid solutions or solar home systems in 2020. This record high figure is mainly due to the performance of our funds. Additionally, 2 million units of smaller  solar-powered solutions such as lanterns were sold to households in 2020.

More about the impact from Norfund's clean energy investments.

Investing in a variety of energy solutions

The majority of our investments in this investment area are in utility-scale, grid-connected power plants. However, technologies in this sector are changing, costs are declining and new opportunities are emerging.

Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, we succeeded in making several investments in 2020 in captive power (i.e. supplying power directly to commercial and industrial customers), as well as in distributed generation and innovative energy solutions.

Clean Energy Portfolio as of December 2020

Norfund distinguishes between 'clean energy', which covers the whole energy portfolio, and 'renewable energy', which only covers energy based on renewable sources. The difference is accounted for by investments in gas-fired power plants in East and West Africa, through Globeleq.

All new investments in 2020 were in renewable energy.

Investments per Region

CE Investments in 2020

Total CE Portfolio

Effects of COVID-19

In several markets, power demand dropped dramatically during the first half of 2020, in some cases resulting in surplus power and/or low prices. Precautionary ‘emergency’ measures had to be taken at power plants to ensure continuity in operations and stable power supply to the grid. By the end of the year, demand had recovered to pre-COVID levels in most markets, but it has set back plans for further capacity expansions in some countries. 

Most of the year, access to expert personnel for maintenance and repairs, as well as construction, was restricted and several projects under construction have seen delays. This resulted in delays and risks to ongoing plant operations. In the off-grid segment, we saw supply chain bottlenecks, particularly in the second quarter of the year, meaning that many companies ran low on stock and had to curtail sales.

Highlights of 2020


New investee companies


Follow-on investments

Sale of SN Power to Scatec

After building SN Power into a leading hydropower company in developing countries, Norfund sold SN Power to Scatec for USD 1.2 billion. This was undoubtedly the most significant event of the year, and the released capital will be reinvested in new development-promoting companies in the years to come.

More about the sale of SN Power

Investing in captive power 

In 2020, Norfund invested in four companies that specialise in supplying power directly to commercial and industrial customers. 

Berkeley Energy Commercial and Industrial Solutions is a full-service platform that invests, develops, constructs and operates distributed energy solutions, such as solar PV and bioenergy, for commercial and industrial customers in South and Southeast Asia.

Yoma Micro Power, a company supplying solar-hybrid energy systems and reliable and clean energy to telecom towers and the rural population in Myanmar. 

Starsight, a Nigerian company supplying solar-hybrid energy solutions to commercial customers in Nigeria and Ghana.

Escotel, a new company set up to provide modern, renewable power solutions for telecom networks all over Africa and thereby contribute to increased mobile service quality, reduced cost of ownership and decreased CO2 emissions.

Innovative financing solution for off-grid customers

Brighter Light Kenya is an example of an off-balance sheet financing solution for the off-grid segment allowing d.light, an off-grid solar provider to plan long-term and increase its number of rural private customers.

Read more about Brighter Light Kenya at

Two large-scale projects under construction

In 2020, Globeleq had two projects under construction: the 52 MWp Malindi PV solar plant in Kenya and the 253 MW expansion of the existing Azito gas plant in Côte d’Ivoire. The projects faced challenges due to the COVID lockdowns, but good progress is being made on construction at both sites. 

The Scatec Upington projects successfully commissioned

Scatec Solar Upington, a 258 MW solar power complex, was completed in South Africa on 6 April 2020. Despite the constraints of COVID restrictions, the three facilities situated on adjacent plots in the Northern Cape had a smooth transition to full operations.

Read more about Scatec Solar Upington at

InvestmentCountryInvestment yearSectorInstrumentOwner shareDomicileCommitted (NOK)
Brighter Life Kenya 1Africa2020Solar powerLoansJersey127.9
ESCOTELAfrica2020Solar powerEquity and Loans31 %Mauritius92.7
Berkeley Energy Commercial & Industrial SolutionsAsia & Pacific2020EnergyEquity24 %Singapore239.3
WeLightAfrica2019EnergyEquity and Loans30 %Mauritius46.8
Greenlight PlanetGlobal2019Solar powerLoansUnited States of America91.7
StarsightAfrica2019Solar powerLoansNigeria81.0
responsAbility ACPFGlobal2019EnergyFunds8 %Luxembourg103.0
Metier Sustainable Capital Fund IIAfrica2019EnergyFunds17 %Mauritius170.9
FEI - Facility for Energy InclusionAfrica2019Investment fundsFunds18 %Mauritius170.8
Schneider Electric Energy Access AsiaAsia & Pacific2019EnergyFunds30 %France65.9
Evolution Fund II (Through KNI)Global2019EnergyFunds14 %Mauritius130.4
Neo1 PVLesotho2018Solar powerEquity21 %Lesotho7.2
rAREHAfrica2017HydropowerEquity26 %Mauritius272.8
SunshineAmerica2017Solar powerEquity and LoansCosta Rica17.8
M-KopaAfrica2017Solar powerLoansKenya97.0
New Africa PowerZambia2017HydropowerEquity28 %Mauritius15.8
Yoma Micro PowerMyanmar2017Solar powerEquity and Loans15 %Singapore91.2
d.lightGlobal2016Solar powerEquity5%United States of America43.9
Scatec MocubaMozambique2016Solar powerEquity and Loans11 %Mozambique51.5
Scatec BenbanEgypt2015Solar powerEquity12 %Netherlands95.8
Scatec Solar Los PradosHonduras2015Solar powerEquityHonduras108.3
Scatec UpingtonSouth Africa2015Solar powerEquity and Loans30 %Netherlands86.2
Scatec ASYVRwanda2014Solar powerEquity and Loans16 %Rwanda33.9
Scatec Solar Agua FriaHonduras2014Solar powerEquity and Loans30 %Honduras193.5
GlobeleqAfrica2014EnergyEquity and Loans30 %United Kingdom2,323.6
Renewable Energy HoldingsSouth Africa2014HydropowerLoansSouth Africa25.5
Bio2Watt Cape DairySouth Africa2014BiomassLoansSouth Africa5.2
Lake Turkana Wind Power (LTWP)Kenya2013Wind powerEquityKenya98.9
KinangopKenya2013Wind powerEquity19 %British Virgin Islands94.3
SN PowerGlobal2013HydropowerEquity100 %Norway7,444.5
Bronkhorstspruit Biogas PlantSouth Africa2011BiomassEquity11 %South Africa25.5
Nam SimLaos2011HydropowerLoans38 %Laos31.5
ICCFGlobal2010EnergyLoans3 %Luxembourg355.1