Tackling the Climate Crisis

Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE)

By working together, we can accelerate an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive transition to net zero economies. USAID is leading a collaborative effort to rapidly reduce energy-related emissions.

The latest research indicates that global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must be cut in half by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050 to avoid the worst climate impacts. USAID’s Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE) program supports partner countries to meet bold international commitments by accelerating their transition to clean energy, rapidly reducing emissions, adapting to and managing climate risks, and increasing resilience, guided by the principles of equality and inclusion.

Charting the Roadmap to Net Zero

USAID partner countries are developing or updating their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), strategies, and interventions in support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to reflect our shared ambition for a net zero world. Through the SURE program, USAID provides analytics and technical support for energy-related NDCs and designs net zero and low-emission development strategies for the energy sector.

USAID’s technical experts also support carbon market design and implementation, carbon accounting, and circular economy initiatives that change the way renewable energy equipment is manufactured, deployed, and decommissioned. By extending the life of parts and materials, including critical metals, nations can reduce emissions, waste, and mining impacts such as biodiversity loss and ecological degradation. Circular economy strategies that direct such materials back into the market using environmentally sound practices can help avoid climate breakdown. By drastically reducing the amount of minerals, fossil fuels, metals, and biomass consumed by the world economy, they can eliminate the 22.8 billion tons of annual emissions associated with creating new products from virgin materials.

Empowering Climate Change Mitigation

36M tCOe of GHG emissions reduced or avoided through 2030

To limit the rise in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius and to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, we must accelerate the clean energy transition and lower GHG emissions. USAID’s SURE program experts provide technical support services to achieve large-scale renewable energy transition and deployment, including strategic energy planning, grid integration, renewable energy procurement, small-scale renewables program design, and energy efficiency and demand-side management program design.

Between 2017 and 2020, SURE has helped USAID partner countries reduce or avoid 36 million tCO2e of GHG emissions through 2030.

With support from USAID, the Government of India procured 1.6 gigawatts (GW) of electricity through first-of-their-kind tenders that will power the grid 24 hours a day using a combination of renewable technologies and storage. The projects are expected to bring over $3 billion in investment.

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

SURE has developed trainings, tools, and resources to help policymakers, power utilities, and regulators modernize energy sectors and create policies that enable renewable energy markets to flourish. Activities span climate and clean energy design, creating critical preconditions for large-scale energy transition, through clean energy deployment. All interventions are country-led and country-owned, embrace innovation, and are rooted in science and international best practices.

Since 2017, SURE has improved the capacity of nearly 500 institutions to address clean energy issues.

Advancing Climate Adaptation and Resilience

USAID partners are experiencing climate variability and risks, whether from sudden events such as floods and storms or from slower-moving occurrences such as droughts and rising sea levels. Through the SURE program, USAID partners with power utilities and policymakers to build resilience and reduce vulnerability in the power system by developing energy sector resilience programming; transmission and distribution; and integrating weather data tools for more accurate generation forecasting.

For example, as Indonesia ramps up renewable energy generation, power system planners must prepare for increasing amounts of intermittent supply from wind, solar, and other technologies. In South Sulawesi province, interconnection delays and the inability to deliver energy from wind projects curtailed the resource. To mitigate these types of challenges, SURE supported Indonesia’s state-owned electricity company (PLN) to incorporate variable renewable energy (VRE) generation forecasts into dispatch decisions and evaluated its readiness to automate VRE generation forecasting as part of its regular planning.

Through SURE, USAID also develops tools, resources, and trainings to increase resilience in power utilities and electric grids.

Integrating Clean Energy to Drive Development Outcomes

Climate touches every aspect of USAID’s work. SURE helps USAID partner countries reduce GHG emissions while advancing food security and gender equality and improving education and health outcomes.

By scaling renewable energy, partners can increase efficiency in agriculture and food production, thereby improving nutrition, reducing climate migration, and increasing incomes. In support of Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development (Powering Ag), SURE partnered with the non-profit Collaborative Labeling and Appliance Standards Program (CLASP) to stimulate the solar irrigation pump market by incentivizing distributors in East and West Africa and South Asia to procure solar water pumps. Distributors bid for subsidies in three SURE co-funded reverse auctions that helped them make bulk purchases from manufacturers. SURE supported 45 companies in seven countries to procure 13,000 pumps and trained distributors and users on water extraction, fertilizer runoff, and land conversion to mitigate the environmental impacts of increased pump use. SURE support through Powering Ag enabled CLASP to expand the program into Bangladesh, Senegal, and Zambia.

Reliable electricity can mean life or death for a patient, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many health centers do not have affordable, reliable electricity. In 2020, SURE launched Powering Health, a gateway to USAID resources on electrification for health facilities. Powering Health helps international development professionals and health administrators design, procure, and install reliable, lasting energy systems. In the year since its release, more than 3,100 users from 58 countries have visited Powering Health resources, for a total of 34,200 views. More than 41 percent are repeat viewers, as stakeholders return to the toolkit for guidelines on electrifying health centers.

Ensuring Equality and Inclusion

Renewable energy deployment should create inclusive economic and social opportunities. SURE works with local partners to ensure low-income populations, women and girls, and Indigenous and marginalized communities are not saddled with waste or harmful pollutants, but instead can reap the social and economic benefits of a low-carbon economy. These benefits include increased capital investments in local communities, revenue for landowners, low-cost sources of electricity, and local jobs where industry and employment may be scarce.

SURE also supports community engagement processes that include local NGOs, youth activists, community leaders, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, local private sector, and other groups, making sure that those who face the brunt of the climate crisis have access and influence over decision-making.

Through USAID’s Engendering Industries program, SURE partners with 17 power utilities in 14 countries to create leadership and technical opportunities for women in the energy sector. Since 2017, SURE has supported partner companies to implement nearly 450 gender equality interventions within their organizations, resulting in partner utilities hiring more than 1,000 women and promoting another 1,000.

In Colombia, the Fund for Non-Conventional Energies and Efficient Energy Management (FENOGE) is an organization regulated by the Ministry of Mines and Energy that finances, manages, and executes plans, energy efficiency programs, and projects. In 2021, SURE supported FENOGE’s efforts to reduce gender inequality in the Colombian energy sector by integrating gender into its project life cycle. For project design, SURE is systematically integrating considerations of gender equality and women’s empowerment into project tasks and to help break away from the unequal gender status quo in renewable energy, raising awareness among stakeholders and increasing gender equality and women’s political, social, and economic participation in the sector. For project prioritization, SURE integrated gender-inclusive indicators to incentivize female employment and benefits. For monitoring, SURE proposed gender inclusion performance indicators, as well as sources to assess projects against those indicators.

Promoting Private Sector Engagement

Governments cannot meet the climate crisis alone. Through SURE, USAID partners with the private sector to identify opportunities to leverage expertise, resources, and technology solutions. SURE engages private sector companies and business associations to co-create pilot programs and interventions. Through its Innovation Fund, SURE co-invests in breakthrough solutions that will accelerate the transition to a net-zero economy. The program also provides competitive grants for renewable energy technology, clean energy research, and innovative pilot activities.

USAID’s SURE program seeks collaborators to reshape the renewable energy ecosystem. If your organization is interested in partnering or co-investing with us, contact Amanda Valenta or Sarah Lawson.

For More Information

Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE)

GLOBAL, 2017–ONGOING – Through the SURE program, USAID helps partner countries power economies, meet international climate commitments, and strengthen energy security via private investment in, and competitive procurement of, clean electricity.