New initiative launches to accelerate clean generator alternatives

A new initiative, aimed at creating viable alternatives to the use of fossil fuelled generators across developing countries, launched today at COP27. The Zero Emission Generators (ZE-Gen) initiative is being developed in partnership by the Carbon Trust and Innovate UK, with initial funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the IKEA Foundation. 

ZE-Gen has an initial commitment of over £15 million, with the ambition to seed a wider £100 million partnership. The initiative will enable the replacement of millions of polluting and expensive fossil-fuelled generators, and accelerate the transition to renewable energy-based alternatives.

For many citizens, dirty, noisy and polluting diesel and petrol generators are their only reliable source of power. Without effective intervention, dependence across the world will remain high. According to the IFC, an estimated 25 million generators were deployed across developing countries in 2016 alone, producing the equivalent power of 700-1,000 coal fired power stations and resulting in significant emissions and pollution . They also deliver some of the most expensive electricity in the world, with up to USD $100 billion spent on fuel each year . 

Renewable energy-based solutions are emerging, but support is needed to accelerate their development and uptake. In Africa alone, replacing fossil fuel gensets could create a financing opportunity worth more than USD $134 billion by 2030.  ZE-Gen is designed to tackle market failures, accelerate innovation and fund activities to build a thriving, competitive market. 

ZE-Gen will focus on four key areas and bring stakeholders together from across relevant sectors: 

  • Innovation: demonstrating compelling solutions that can phase out fossil fuelled generators in different applications on both cost and performance
  • Finance and investment: increasing investments from the private sector and concessional finance to support the relatively nascent market for alternatives
  • Market intelligence: creating open-source data and toolkits for the private sector that identify the needs and opportunities for different use cases; and
  • Ecosystem building: supporting capacity building, supply chain innovation and other market enablers.

Today at the UK Pavilion at COP27, the UK Climate Minister Graham Stuart said: “I am proud to announce the launch of the Zero Emission Generators, ‘ZE-Gen’ initiative, in partnership with the IKEA Foundation. The UK will provide £15 million from our Glasgow commitment to the Transforming Energy Access platform, to seed a wider £100 million innovation partnership which will accelerate Zero Emission alternatives to these fossil fuel ‘gensets’.”

“Zero emission generators are good for the environment and contribute to better health and economic empowerment for the many people. In order to serve the energy needs of the majority in the world today, it is crucial that more reliable, affordable and renewable alternatives become available. That is why we are supporting the Carbon Trust along with the FCDO because we believe that ZE-Gen will enable people to power their livelihoods with renewable energy and help meet net-zero greenhouse gas emissions”, said Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation today

Tom Delay, CEO, the Carbon Trust commented: “Replacing fossil fuels generators with zero emission alternatives is not only good for the planet but also provides communities with cleaner air, quieter environments and cheaper, more secure energy. In partnership with IKEA Foundation and UK Government, we aim to drive a transition from fossil fuel generators faster, reducing emissions and creating healthier, cleaner and wealthier communities.”

ZE-Gen will require strong partnerships across development partners, the private sector, public funders and others as well as funding at scale to fulfil its mission. Interested parties are encouraged to engage for opportunities.

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