Odyssey’s project development software allows renewable energy companies who receive results-based financing and other forms of investment to track every step of their project progress and submit results to funders. Based on data shared by renewable energy companies, funders can use the software to track the results and impact of their projects.
Results-based financing and performance-based grants require renewable energy companies to show proof that they have connected homes, businesses and other end-users to electricity before they can be paid for the connections. Historically this has been a manual process with funders hiring Independent Verification Agencies (IVAs) to call and visit end users to verify that the connection claims submitted are real. In many cases, it can take a year or more for funders to get the verification results they need to pay renewable energy companies.
We knew there had to be a better way. In 2021, Odyssey released a new feature: an integration with all major Customer Relationship Management (CRM) providers that allows connection claims submitted by developers to be remotely and automatically verified, reducing the need for manual verification and dramatically speeding up the time to payment. Now in action for almost two years, we wanted to take a look at the impact it has had.
How it works
There are two steps to the verification process:
On a monthly basis, renewable energy companies submit their sales from the previous month to the Odyssey platform. For example, say a solar home system company sold 3,000 systems to end users, they would need to provide the serial numbers and external IDs of each system, the customer name and the type of payment, along with any specific program requirements for the type of funding they are getting (for example, gender, category of end user). They would log these fields in the platform, making it available to be reviewed by investors.
This is where the CRM integrations come in, making it possible to automatically check if the claims submitted in part one are valid. Our software integrates with all major CRMs, including Solaris, Angaza, Upya and Paygee and more. Working directly with the CRM companies, we cross reference the data submitted in part one based on the system ID number, the customer name, the payment amount and the timestamp from when the connection was first made. Based on these inputs, without any involvement from the renewable energy company/developer, our software can verify that connections are up and running.
One of the best ways to share the impact of the remote connection verification feature is to hear from companies that have experienced the impacts first-hand.
Sun King manufactures, distributes, installs and finances solar energy products including solar home systems, solar inverters and solar lanterns. Since 2019 they have participated in results-based financing programs hosted by the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA) which runs their programs on Odyssey software platform. REA introduced our remote verification functionality into their disbursement process in 2021, and was able to reduce disbursement timeline from 3-4 months to 2-3 weeks.
“Remote verification helps overcome one of the key issues with phone verification: customers being busy or unavailable during the time the independent verification agency (IVA) call is made. E-verification on the contrary can be done 24/7 and helps make use of the numerous payment data points available for the unit. Use of e-verification has been a game-changer for Greenlight Planet (Sun King) and we look forward to this being implemented in other results-based financing programs going forward as well.” -Purav Shah, Greenlight Planet
Sun King benefits from this by getting their payouts more quickly, enabling them to run their business more efficiently and make more investments in the growth of their business. The renewable energy companies are not the only ones who benefit. REA also benefited, by saving time and resources that could instead be redirected to additional electrification efforts.
“Remote verification is providing a pivotal function for us at REA. It has significantly reduced the turnaround time for processing claims, speeding up the rate of disbursements. As a result, nearly 7M Nigerians have been impacted through the Output-Based Fund.” - Lande Abudu, Rural Electrification Agency of Nigeria
In this chart you can see, in early 2021 the remote connection verification integration feature was launched and the disbursements grew at a very steep rate.
Electrification with Odyssey
The remote connection verification functionality is just one of many that Odyssey has built to accelerate the clean energy transition in emerging markets. Over the years, Odyssey has built a full stack of tools to help with financing, equipment procurement and remote monitoring of distributed renewable energy assets. If you’d like to learn more about how we’ve worked with development banks, electrification initiatives and renewable energy companies, please get in touch.