Access to reliable electricity is a prerequisite for economic growth and development. The potential power-generating capacity is substantial and remains unexploited in many developing countries.
Considerable investments are needed to meet the rising demand for electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, lack of access to energy is a major constraint for the establishment and growth of small- and medium-sized businesses.
Funding from multilateral development banks and bilateral DFIs is usually crucial, as the credit ratings for clean energy projects in poor countries often are below investment grade, deterring international investors. DFIs also play a role in helping pioneer investments in the energy sector to demonstrate their financial viability and to catalyse further investments from the private sector.
Norfund contributes to improving access to reliable electricity by investing in electricity generation where the need for capital is large. Clean energy is Norfund's largest business area and constitutes about half of the portfolio.
While hydropower has dominated the energy portfolio until recently, solar and wind energy have become more competitive and account for an increasing portion of the portfolio.
Norfund’s strategy is to invest with – or via – industrial partners. The competence we have built up in these long-term partnerships have been essential to Norfund's success.
Until recently, hydro power has dominated Norfund's clean energy portfolio. SN Power has been and still is Norfund's key actor and resource in this regard. SN Power's vision is to be a leading hydropower provider in emerging markets, facilitating development and local economic growth through the delivery of clean, renewable energy. Until September 2017, Statkraft and Norfund owned 50 percent each in SN Power. However, in September 2017 Statkraft and Norfund closed an agreement to swap shares in their jointly owned international hydropower assets.Today, Norfund thereby owns 100% shares in SN Power.
Norfund is also prioritising small-scale hydropower and off-grid solutions and has recently established partnerships in both.
Solar and wind power
Solar and wind power have been more competitive and account for an increasing part of Norfund's portfolio. Approximately 250 MWp solar power has been built with Scatec Solar, and further significant growth is expected.
The Lake Turkana Wind Power Project (LTWP), in which KLP Norfund Invest has provided 12,5% of the equity required, aims to provide 310MW of reliable, low-cost wind power to the Kenya national grid. This is equivalent to approximately 20% of the current installed electricity generating capacity.
Many renewable technologies, such as wind and solar power, have variable production and are dependent on the weather. To stabilise the grid, other reserve and balancing power sources are required. These could be supplied, for example, by natural gas – a domestic resource in many African countries and one which has a low carbon footprint compared to other fossil fuel energy sources.
In 2015, Norfund acquired a 30% stake in Globeleq, one of Africa’s leading independent power companies. Globeleq builds power generation plants with solar, wind and gas as key fuel sources.
NB! Energy-oriented PE funds or financial intermediaries for energy projects are not prioritised.
Norfund prioritises investments in countries classified as least developed countries (LDCs) and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. 92% of Norfund's new clean energy investments in 2015 were made in Africa. Of the total clean energy portfolio, 37% is in Africa.
Clean Energy vs. Renewable Energy
Norfund distinguishes between the concepts "clean energy", which is the name of the Norfund investment department and covers the whole energy portfolio, and "renewable energy", which only covers energy based on renewable sources. The difference is largely accounted for by investments in gas-fired power plants in East and West Africa.
- Lake Turkana Wind Power Limited (Wind, Kenya)
- Scatec Rwanda (Solar, Rwanda )
- Full investment overview