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Justin Guay
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Justin Guay is an Associate Director for the Sierra Club's International Climate Program. Based in San Francisco, Calif., he focuses on energy lending reform at international financial institutions and global efforts to transition energy systems beyond coal to clean energy. In his previous positions at the Sierra Club, Justin lived and worked in Washington, D.C., and Mumbai, where he collaborated with Indian NGOs and for-profit companies to develop a model of clean energy distribution in rural areas.

Entries by Justin Guay

Did OPIC Just Finish A Watershed Beyond The Grid Solar Deal?

(0) Comments | Posted December 18, 2014 | 1:56 PM

Access to finance is the single largest barrier hindering clean energy access beyond the grid -- but the tide may be turning.

2014 was a breakout year for beyond the grid clean energy investment with at least $64 million invested, according to Greentech media. But in spite of this growing investment, the debt needed to scale successful companies is still all but absent. Which means whomever unlocks this debt unlocks scale, and that means powering hundreds of millions of lives.

In what may be a watershed moment on that front, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) just this week closed a deal with Simpa Networks, a leading solar-as-a-service company operating in India. Their announcement included raising $4 million in commercial debt financing from OPIC and GDF Suez.

With this new funding, Simpa Networks will be able to reach an additional 200,000 people with clean, reliable, beyond the grid energy. To date, Simpa Networks has delivered over 65-megawatt hours of power and has created over 2,800 full and part-time jobs. Simpa Networks' press release included the following statement from OPIC's President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield:

"Simpa's inclusive approach to spreading energy access makes them an ideal partner for OPIC's impact-focused development investment strategy. The kind of technological leap Simpa and like-minded innovators are achieving proves that off-grid, clean energy in emerging markets is not merely viable, but a true opportunity both financially and environmentally."

It just so happens we at the Sierra Club are quite familiar with the work of Simpa Networks. We featured them in our short video, "Harnessing the Sun to Keep The Lights On in India" -- a video that, by the way, will be screened at the wild and scenic film festival early next year.

All in all, the Simpa/OPIC deal may just be an important moment that marks a shift in the growth of this market. If this is in fact the case, it will be in large part thanks to innovative public agencies like OPIC whose U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Finance (ACEF) initiative has committed to supporting 25 clean energy projects in 10 African countries -- including significant support for beyond-the-grid clean energy companies.

The truth is OPIC is a leader in this market, and other agencies would do well to follow in their...

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Will World Bank President Dr. Kim Go the Last Mile for Clean Energy Access?

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2014 | 1:16 PM

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Co-authored with Vrinda Manglik, Associate Campaign Representative, International Clean Energy Access

The World Bank is failing to invest enough resources in clean energy access -- but Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim now has the opportunity to change all that.

Back...

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India's 'Airpocalypse' Could Kill 229,000 People Every Year

(2) Comments | Posted December 9, 2014 | 2:03 PM

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If India proceeds to build all proposed coal-fired power plants, the country may face a quarter million deaths every single year - and its own coal-fueled "airpocalypse."

That's the stark findings of the latest report from India-based Conservation...

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Big Banks Propping Up Dirty Coal Industry to the Tune of $89 Billion

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2014 | 1:50 PM

Co-authored by Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign coordinator at Banktrack.

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After nearly destroying the global financial system, big international banks are yet again undermining international stability, this time by underwriting the coal industry's devastating effect on climate disruption and human health.

...
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Holiday Season Brings Big Developments for International Coal Financing

(0) Comments | Posted December 2, 2014 | 3:34 PM

Co-authored with Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club International Climate Program

While we were celebrating the start of the holiday season last week, there were a lot of big developments around the world to be thankful for, and a few to be wary of.

As the world turns its eyes to...

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The World's First Rural Feed-In Tariff?

(0) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 10:51 AM

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How do we move clean energy access beyond just a light bulb?

With millions of dollars in new investment capping a record year for beyond the grid solar markets, that's the question many are now asking. This record investment...

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Despite Crackdown, Indian Courts Side With Public Health, Against Coal

(0) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 4:46 PM

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In a huge victory for local communities, public health, and the rule of law, yet another enormous proposed coal plant has been denied clearance in India.

In another major setback for the expansion of the coal industry, a panel of judges rejected...

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Move Over World Bank: Bilateral Institutions Lead Investment Beyond the Grid

(0) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 2:07 PM

Co-authored with Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club Associate Campaign Representative, International Clean Energy Access
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Photo courtesy of GSMA

While investments are continuing to flow into beyond the grid clean energy markets, most public institutions are missing in action.

The Sierra Club and...

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Five Principles for Taming the Wild West of Beyond the Grid Clean Energy Policy

(1) Comments | Posted October 27, 2014 | 3:25 PM

Misguided and inappropriate safeguards threaten to handicap some of the most dynamic and innovative approaches to ending energy poverty for 1.3 billion people around the world.

That the findings of Sierra Club's latest report -- Expanding Energy Access: Beyond The Grid -- which proposes five policy principles...

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Millions in New Investment Cap Record Year for Beyond the Grid Solar Markets

(1) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 4:01 PM

Co-authored with Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club Associate Campaign Representative, International Clean Energy Access

It has been a record year for beyond the grid solar investment.

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Photo courtesy of OMC Power.

Over $45 million in investments have closed in the past year,...

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Are U.S. Taxpayer Dollars Supporting Coal Industry Human Rights Violations Overseas?

(2) Comments | Posted October 20, 2014 | 11:32 AM

Co-authored with Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club International Climate Program
2014-10-20-Sasanandashpond.jpg The Sasan coal-fired power plan and coal ash pond. Photo courtesy of Nicole Ghio.

Today, a fact finding team of five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) -- the Sierra Club, 350.org, Carbon Market Watch, Friends of...

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Will the Export-Import Bank's Office of the Inspector General Ignore Human Rights Violations?

(0) Comments | Posted October 17, 2014 | 1:23 PM

Co-authored by Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club International Climate Program
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The Harrahawa Village was relocated to make way for the Sasan coal ash pond. Photo courtesy of Nicole Ghio.

Sudarshan Rajak disappeared under suspicious circumstances after protesting the relocation of families for Reliance Power's...

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Will a Dirty Coal Plant in Kosovo Spoil the Clean Energy Record of Dr. Kim and World Bank?

(0) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 11:59 AM

Co-authored with Andrew Linhardt, Sierra Club Associate Washington Representative
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Light projection on the World Bank building in Washington DC Source: 350.org, 2013

For the fourth year in a row, the World Bank's investments are coal-free. But the real test of the...

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Why Is The World Bank Failing On Energy Poverty?

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 4:59 PM

Co-authored with Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club Associate Campaign Representative, International Clean Energy Access

World Bank energy investments are categorically failing to end energy poverty.

That's the stark finding of a new report released by Sierra Club and Oil Change International which measures how multilateral development banks (MDB) fare...

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Four Reasons Pay-As-You-Go Solar And Digital Financing Are Unlocking Energy Access For All

(0) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 3:57 PM

Co-authored with Vrinda Manglik, Sierra Club Associate Campaign Representative, International Clean Energy Access

We already know that pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar companies are making high-quality, modern clean energy products readily available for those living beyond the grid -- a factor that is poised to expand energy access to the...

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Will Germany Join the International Community and Restrict Overseas Coal Finance?

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 3:34 PM

"In New York, I will announce that the government will change its position on the financing of coal-fired power plants abroad." -- German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendriks September 17th, 2014.

This exciting statement could substantially change what German overseas investments, from important institutions like KfW,...

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World Looks to OECD as High Level Commission Calls for Phasing Out Coal

(0) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 6:39 PM

Co-authored with Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club International Climate Program

Today, the high powered Global Commission on the Climate and Economy released its flagship report on global coal use and the economy: The New Climate Economy.

The report pulls no punches when it comes to coal,...

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China's Coal Imports Drop For The First Time Since Country Became Net Coal Importer

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2014 | 4:40 PM

Co-authored by Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace International

A recently published analysis compiled by Lauri Myllyvirta and Greenpeace International showed the unthinkable -- Chinese coal consumption fell for the first time this century in the first half of this year. Even more striking is the fact that China's...

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Are Mini-Grids The Next Big Opportunity Beyond The Grid?

(5) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 2:14 PM

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Photo courtesy of Devergy

Beyond the grid solar start-up Devergy believes the time has come for the next evolution in clean energy access markets: mini-grids.

The mini-grid systems Devergy deploys are essentially many solar home systems connected to a battery...

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Uncertainty, Rising Costs Cloud Indian Coal Sector After Landmark Supreme Court Rulings

(1) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 1:07 PM

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India's coal bubble is perilously close to bursting.

This week the Indian court system handed down three landmark energy rulings. While an ultimate decision still looms, the combined weight of these initial rulings reaffirms one thing -- it's time to...

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