New initiative launches to accelerate clean generator alternatives

ZE-Gen launch

15 November 2022 – Egypt: 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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Background note for editors

About the Ayrton Fund
The UK Government announced the Ayrton Fund commitment of up to £1bn for clean energy innovation at the UN Climate Action Summit in 2019. It is part of the total £11.6bn of UK International Climate Finance also announced over the period from 2021 to 2026. The vision of the Ayrton Fund is to help drive forward the clean energy transition in developing countries, by creating and demonstrating new technologies and business models to deploy them. It will demonstrate UK leadership and expertise in cutting global emissions through world-leading innovations. The Ayrton Fund is delivered by the FCDO and BEIS via a portfolio of ongoing, new and scaled-up programmes. Learn more: Ayrton Fund - GOV.UK

About the Transforming Energy Access platform
Transforming Energy Access (TEA) is the flagship FCDO research and innovation programme supporting early-stage testing and scale-up of innovative technologies and business models that accelerate access to affordable, clean energy for poor households, enterprises, and social institutions in developing countries across sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and the Indo-Pacific. This includes support to innovations across the three Ayrton Fund themes of clean supply, super-efficient demand and smart delivery, as well as integration of solutions across the three. In late 2021, a £126m scale-up of the platform was announced at COP26, further advancing TEA into a major delivery platform for the Ayrton Fund focused on delivering innovations enabling a Just Transition for the 733 million people who still lack access to electricity, the 2.4 billion people who cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment.

IKEA Foundation 
The IKEA Foundation is a strategic philanthropy that focuses its grant making efforts on tackling the two biggest threats to children’s futures: poverty and climate change. It currently grants more than €200 million per year to help improve family incomes and quality of life while protecting the planet from climate change. Since 2009, the IKEA Foundation has granted more than €1.5 billion to create a better future for children and their families. In 2021 the Board of the IKEA Foundation decided to make an additional €1 billion available over the next five years to accelerate the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Learn more at:

About Innovate UK
Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. For more information, visit the UK Research and Innovation website. We drive productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

About the Carbon Trust 
The Carbon Trust is a global climate organisation driven by the mission to accelerate the move to a decarbonised future. We have been pioneering decarbonisation for more than 20 years for businesses, governments, and organisations. Drawing on a network of over 400 experts internationally, the Carbon Trust guides organisations through their journey to Net Zero. From strategic planning and target setting to delivery, activation, and communication - we provide smarter ways to turn intent into impact.  
Visit the website to find out more 

1The Dirty Footprint of the Broken Grid, 2019, International Finance Corporation
2Rapid market assessment of energy storage in weak and off-grid contexts of developing countries, 2019, Vivid Economics funded by the Faraday Institution
3Unlocking Climate Finance to Accelerate Energy Access in Africa, 2021, Catalyst Off-Grid Advisors, funded by Shell Foundation & Rockefeller Foundation