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Sun King raises $260M to widen clean energy access in Africa, Asia

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The seven most funded solar startups are Bboxx, d.light, Engie Energy Access, Sun King, Lumos, M-Kopa, and Zola, which, according to the Gogla Investment database, have attracted 72% of the sector’s $2.3 billion equity, debt and grant financing.
Image Credits: Sun King

One of the largest solar companies in Africa and Asia, Sun King, has raised $260 million in series D funding to deliver off-grid energy technologies to more people across the two continents.

Sun King (formerly Greenlight Planet) plans to use $100 million to expand its pay-as-you-go solutions and introduce larger setups that are capable of powering appliances like refrigerators. Its current systems can power lights, mobile phones and small home appliances like TVs. Part of the funding will be used to expand the business’ presence.

The company was founded in 2007 by T. Patrick Walsh (CEO) and Anish Thakkar. It has sold its products in over 40 countries including Kenya, one of its first markets, where it reports to have benefited 18 million people over 10 years of operations. It also has a presence in Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria, where it says its customers tripled over the last one year.

Shell-founded startup fund receives $13 million from Canadian DFI to accelerate clean energy access in Africa

“This investment in Sun King marks an incredible inflection point for the global off-grid solar industry,” said Walsh.

“Over the last 15 years, we have delivered solar energy and light to over 82 million people, enabling kids to study for school, helping entrepreneurs run small businesses, and allowing families to power their lives, free from the danger and high cost of kerosene lanterns. This landmark investment allows us to continue scaling our technology, service and financing capabilities so we can meet the needs of the next billion energy consumers,” he said.

Sun King plans to use the funding to deliver off-grid energy technologies to more people across Africa and Asia. Image Credits: Sun King

The latest funding round was led by BeyondNetZero, the climate investing venture of General Atlantic, with participation from M&G Investments’ Catalyst and Arch Emerging Markets Partners. Sun King has previously raised $170 million in equity and debt funding.

“BeyondNetZero is excited to back Sun King, an industry-leading company that offers consumers accessible and affordable solar products, supported by fair and sustainable business practices,” said Eli Aheto, managing director, General Atlantic’s climate initiative BeyondNetZero.

“We look forward to partnering with the company and its leadership as they bring innovative and affordable off-grid solar products to new markets and continue to grow their meaningful contribution to the global net zero transition,” said Aheto.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 75% of the world’s population with no access to renewable energy solutions and electricity. Countries like South Sudan, Burundi, Chad, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Tanzania are among the least electrified in the world and could benefit from clean energy technologies.

Companies like Sun King, said to have so far distributed its home energy systems to over 82 million customers, are bridging this gap by using the PAYGO model, which eases the burden for poor families that may not afford the hefty lump sums often demanded for grid connections.

“Sun King is leading a global transformation in the way we provide electricity to consumers in Africa and Asia. It’s now dramatically more affordable to power a home with a solar system than to extend the electrical grid: for less than the cost of a single electrical pole, we can install an entire solar energy system in-home. This funding will further unlock our ability to scale this revolution to the 1.8 billion people who need these products today, and the next billion who will need them tomorrow,” said Thakkar.

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