• Video

    Scaling Up Renewable Energy through Auctions (00:57)

    USAID provides a full range of services to prepare for, design, and implement renewable energy auctions while making sure that partners are supported in every step of the process. Explore the toolkit

Countries can achieve historically low energy prices when energy providers compete in open and transparent procurement frameworks.

Defining a Renewable Energy Auction: An auction is a competitive procurement process that enables countries to find the most cost-effective renewable energy projects on the market. In an auction, energy project developers bid against each other to supply energy through long-term contracts at the lowest possible price. Awards are generally made based on bids submitted by participating energy providers according to transparent award rules. The energy industry also refers to an auction as a tender or reverse energy auction. Auctions are open to all eligible bidders and have clear award rules. This open and transparent process creates a level playing field for U.S. and other companies and safeguards against corruption.

Regardless of market maturity, auctions help policymakers achieve sustainable cost reductions while spurring private investment, creating local jobs, reducing corruption in the procurement process, and reducing emissions. Compared to negotiated procurements, auctions allow for faster project execution and enable policymakers greater volume control and ease in scaling for multiple projects and rounds. Through a thoughtful and strategic design process, policymakers can take steps to attract robust competition and diverse bidders, mitigate risk with currency fluctuations, and prevent gaming and delays in project completion.

USAID Leadership

The experts from USAID’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE) program provide a full range of services to prepare for, design, and implement auctions, making sure that our partners are supported in every step of the process. Since 2017, SURE has supported nine renewable energy auctions. By choosing an open, transparent, and competitive procurement process, USAID partner countries are accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy while reaping social and economic benefits.

In 2020, SURE helped the Solar Energy Corporation of India release two system-friendly renewable energy procurements to lower generation and integration costs—major milestones in the country’s transition to a renewable energy future. The projects are a combination of renewable technologies and storage, which will bring 1.6 gigawatts (GW) to the grid, over $1 billion in investment, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17.6 million metric tons of CO2 emissions (tCO₂e).

In 2019, SURE supported an auction in Colombia that awarded 1,374 megawatts (MW) of new wind and solar power projects that will attract roughly $1.3 billion in private investment and save up to $184 million in annual electricity costs.

Planning Auctions

Conducting auctions without adequate planning will not achieve low prices and power system integration. SURE technical experts conduct market and regulatory analysis and help policymakers design auctions that meet the unique needs and goals of each country. SURE also develops environmental and social impact assessment frameworks for renewable energy development.

Implementing Auctions

Auction implementation involves more than collecting and ranking bids. SURE technical experts help with market-building measures by preparing energy providers to bid in the auction and ensuring the same information is accessible to all bidders to ensure transparency and fairness. SURE works with the auctioneer to develop an auction announcement, timetable, auction manual, conducting training and auction simulations to bidders and financial institutions, and holding a pre-bidding conference.

SURE provides advisory support on drafting documents such as auction bylaws, auction announcements, power purchase agreements and technical grid interconnection requirements. We can share model templates for power purchase agreements, time-of-day/time-of-year block auctions, auctions including storage, and feed-in premium auctions and work with the auctioneer to tailor them to the country’s needs.

Bidding models and platforms are important elements of a successful auction. SURE can procure off-the-shelf platforms, customize as needed, and train personnel to manage it. In Mexico, USAID led the development and operation of an online auction platform that ensured the tender process was transparent and competitive. For the third auction, USAID developed a clearinghouse for contracts and guarantees and its operational guide. The clearinghouse acted as an intermediate single buyer and seller mechanism to streamline the process and reduce the risk of administrative or legal problems for both the buyers and sellers. USAID also supported the regulator to create an IT system that allocated clean energy certificates to clean energy generation and managed compliance with clean energy obligations.

Strengthening Regulatory Frameworks

SURE supports the design and adoption of regulatory and legal frameworks that attract private investors. We provide technical guidance on competitive bidding process regulations, public-private partnership laws, and independent power producer laws. We also support the design and adoption of regulatory and legal frameworks such as competitive bidding process regulations, public-private partnership laws, and independent power producer laws.

Increasing Capacity of Local Partners and Thought Leadership

SURE provides tailored in-country or virtual training and workshops on current and emerging best practices as well as tools, white papers, case studies, and resources. SURE also shares best-practice examples of key documents, such as auction design terms, auction descriptions, requests for proposals, and power purchase agreements. We are committed to building local capacity to conduct successful auctions and supporting partners to transition to more widely accessible, affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy that spurs economic growth, powers health systems, and reduces emissions.


  • Case Study

    Mexico’s Auction Program Injects Competition to Energy Market

    With support from USAID, Mexico’s auctions injected competition, private investment, efficiency, and transparency into the sector while achieving some of the world’s lowest renewable energy prices. Read the case study

  • Toolkit

    Renewable Energy Auctions Toolkit

    Auctions are best practice for procuring least-cost energy. This competitive, transparent process helps countries meet their energy and climate goals and attract investment into their clean energy futures. View the toolkit

  • Colombia

    Reverse Energy Auction Design Support

    USAID is helping Colombia develop policy, regulatory, and business environments to procure renewable energy through auctions. The auction represents an opportunity to bring low-cost renewable energy, while promoting investment in Colombia’s energy sector. Visit the website

  • Kazakhstan

    Energy Auctions for Kazakhstan’s Green Economy

    Despite being a fossil fuel-based economy with a surplus of energy, Kazakhstan has a successful renewable energy auction program that is transforming its energy sector and diversifying its energy mix. Visit the website

  • Mexico

    Institutional Framework for Auctions

    Mexico has implemented a major restructuring of its power sector which, with assistance from USAID, resulted in some of the world’s most competitive renewable energy prices. Visit the website

[[nid:282616 view_mode=teaser]]
Business chart with glowing arrows and world map
Countries can achieve historically low energy prices when energy providers compete in open and transparent markets.
© Peshkov / Adobe Stock