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Sun King, Africa’s largest supplier of solar energy products to off-grid households in Asia and Africa, has announced that it has raised $260m in Series D financing. This was led by BeyondNetZero (the climate investing venture of General Atlantic), along with M&G Investments Catalyst team, and Arch Emerging Markets Partners. The company was founded in 2007 under the name Greenlight Planet. It recently changed its name to Sun King.
Sun King is leading the transformation of how electricity is distributed in Africa and Asia. 1.8 billion people lack access to reliable electric grids. Sun King has so far powered the lives in 40 countries of 82 million people. Sun King’s solar home systems can power lighting, phones, radios and other larger appliances. Sun King systems are significantly more affordable and sustainably than kerosene and new power lines. This allows customers to leapfrog both electrical grids or fossil-fuel energy sources completely.
Sun King is the largest direct-to consumer, pay-as you-go (PAYG), solar distribution network in the world. It has over 150,000 clients per month and grows at an average rate of 150,000 across seven countries. One in five Kenyans uses Sun King today. Over a decade, 18 million Kenyans have benefited from Sun King’s services. The company’s Nigerian user base has more than tripled in the last year. The company is still profitable despite its rapid growth.
According to data from GOGLA (the global association for off-grid solar energy), Sun King now represents 38% of industry-wide PAYG solar revenues. Sun King’s rapid growth has resulted in 22 million tons of carbon dioxide being eliminated and $4.4 billion in energy savings.
Sun King’s expansion will be funded with the $260 million financing. This includes $100 million primary investment. The board’s voting power remains with Sun King’s founders. The company plans to continue geographical expansion. Funds will also be used for product-line expansion. These include larger solar systems with AC-electricity converters (capable of powering larger appliances such as refrigerators) and new products like mobile phones.
T. Patrick Walsh, CEO and co-founder of Sun King, stated that “this investment in Sun King represents an incredible inflection moment for the global off grid solar industry.” “Over the past 15 years, we’ve delivered solar energy and lights to more than 82 million people. This has allowed children to go to school and entrepreneurs to start small businesses. It also allows families to have power without the need for kerosene lanterns. This investment is a landmark and will allow us to scale our technology, services, and financing capabilities in order to meet the needs for the next billion energy consumers.