The Digital Energy Facility

Support for the digitalization and modernisation of the energy sector
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The Digital Energy Facility (DEF)
The Digital Energy Facility (DEF) is a programme funded by the European Union and implemented by AFD. It aims to finance digital innovation projects and products in the energy sector. DEF offers a variety of complementary instruments to support energy utilities and startups in their digitalization process such as technical assistance projects, calls for projects, networking opportunities and seed/pre seed financing.
DIgital Energy Facility

 

Facility’s offer

What is the Digital Energy Facility? 

The Digital Energy Facility is a programme mainly funded by the European Union and implemented by Agence Française de Développement. 

  • Budget: €23,500,000 (among which, €3 million has been dedicated to the management, communication and evaluation of the programme)
  • Location : countries eligible for official development assistance from the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) are eligible, except EU pre-accession countries. Focus on Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Duration: December 2019-December 2023 (December 2034 for the seed component)

Why the Digital Energy Facility? 

The energy sector, especially electricity, is facing fundamental changes, which have disrupted the structure of the network: from a centralized to a decentralized power grid, mono-directional to multi-directional, carbon-based to decarbonized, production-centered to a consumer-centric network. 

Digital Energy Facility Scheme

Digitalization is crucial in this new flexible and decentralised energy network as it helps manage energy demand, improves the grids’ planning, and can help implement new business models (mini/offgrids), which contribute to an increased access to energy. 

Thanks to the financing of digital innovation projects and products, the Facility aims to:

  • Support the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid
  • Increase access to energy
  • Improve the performance of utilities and reduce technical and commercial losses

What are the Facility's main objectives? 

The Digital Energy Facility’s actions can be divided into 3 main axes: 

  • Support innovative solutions for energy access in collaboration with the private sector, including start-ups and digital ecosystems active on energy access
  • Support power utilities to develop comprehensive roadmaps and investment plans for performance improvement through the integration of smart grids and new digital solutions in the operation of their systems and the management of companies
  • Eventually, support partnerships between utilities and the private sector to promote the dissemination of innovative solutions on a sustainable basis with the aim of harmonizing technologies and sharing know-how

This later point is the Facility’s specificity as it is the first programme ever to support synergies between the digitalization of utilities and innovative solutions developed by startups. 

Components and eligibility criteria

Concretely, the program will finance Technical Assistance and pilot investments to support the development of innovative solutions for energy access and utility performance improvement. The Program can be divided into 4 different components:

The Digital Energy Facility focuses on countries eligible for official development assistance from the OECD Development Assistance Committee (except EU pre-accession countries), and specifically focuses on Sub-Saharan countries.

Digitalization of utilities : €6.7 M Grant
  • Technical assistance projects to support the digitalization of utilities such as performance diagnosis, digitalization roadmap (10 projects targeted)
  • Capacity building projects such as webinars, workshops
  • Targets: utilities
Financing innovation : €7.2 M Grant (€1.2 M for the calls’ organization and €6 M for the support to winners)
  • Organization of an annual call for projects aiming at promoting partnerships between power utilities and innovative private companies 

  • Technical and financial support for the selected projects

  • Targets: utilities and startups developing innovative digital solutions for the energy sector
Creation of a Digital Energy Community: €1.8 M
  • Online platform providing resources (data gathering and analysis, studies) and providing network opportunities (online workshops, B2B events, etc.)
  • Platform made of a website, social networks, newsletter 
  • Targets: all actors of the energy sector
Seed financing for innovative solutions for energy access companies: €4.8 M debt
  • Seed financing (between 300k€ and 400k€) for start-ups to experiment and scale up innovative solutions for access to energy

  • A financial intermediary is recruited in order to invest in such companies
     
  • Targets: at least 10 startups

Next steps

  • April 2021: Launch of the first call for projects for startups and utilities
  • Financing of the first technical assistance projects aiming at improving utilities’ performance thanks to digitalization
  • Second half of 2021: Launch of the Digital Energy Facility’s online platform

Contact

Our team is available to answer any questions :