• Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy (SDG7) is essential to end poverty, reach other UN Sustainable Development Goals and critical for many countries to meet their climate change mitigation targets. Bold policy commitments, innovative technology and increased private investments can help them get there.

    Today, more than one billion people live without electricity, which is only a slight improvement since 2012. Another 3 billion cook or heat their homes with polluting fuels like wood or other biomass, resulting in indoor and outdoor air pollution that causes about 4.3 million deaths each year. At this rate, the world will only reach 92% electrification by 2030, leaving many in the dark and unable to seize economic and social opportunities that can help them lead better lives.

    The World Bank’s engagement in the energy sector is designed to help client countries secure the affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy supply needed to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. Its strategy mirrors the objectives of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on energy, or SDG7: achieving universal access, accelerating improvements in energy efficiency, and doubling the global share of renewable energy by 2030.

    This requires a concerted push on sustainable options for energy access, including solar and wind, on-grid and off-grid, as well as other viable, low-carbon solutions that reflect every country’s unique circumstances. The World Bank is working with a number of client countries on these fronts and to attract increased private sector participation and investment in the sector.

    The World Bank also works closely with about 70 countries on improving transparency and governance in their extractive industries, with a focus on sustainability and fostering private sector investment. This is critical, as the transition to cleaner energy sources has resulted in increasing demand for the minerals required to build components for renewable technologies, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries.

    Last Updated: Sep 29, 2017

  • The World Bank is approaching the global energy challenge from four angles:

    1. Increasing our focus on countries with low levels of energy access that have prioritized energy issues in their country strategies with the World Bank
    2. Helping to mainstream sector-wide approaches for universal energy access in more than 18 countries, like in Myanmar where we recently committed $400 million to bring electricity to over 6 million people by 2021
    3. Supporting mobilization of sector-level financing through what we call an investment prospectus, working with other development partners and private sector stakeholders
    4. Working to build global knowledge on energy access through products such as:
      • GTF (Global Tracking Framework), new edition launched in April 2017
      • MTF (Multi-Tier Framework), new edition to be launched in FY18
      • RISE (Regulatory Indicators in Sustainable Energy Report), launched in February 2017
      • SEAR (State of Energy Access Report), launched in May 2017

    The World Bank also aims to bring in private sector funding for clean energy, with the objective of mobilizing $25 billion of commercial funds over FY16–FY20. That is more than double the amount mobilized over the past five-year period.

    We help with the development of energy systems based on lowest-cost options with an emphasis on renewable sources such as solar, hydropower, wind and geothermal, with a keen focus on energy efficiency. Projects support achievement of universal access to electricity and modern household fuels, as well as improved utility performance and governance of the sector.

    The World Bank also aids client countries with policy and financial innovations. For example, in the MENA region, the World Bank is supporting the development of a significant concentrated solar power (CSP) initiative with long term storage and development of innovative applications of CSP technology. It is working on large scale deployment of innovative technologies such as floating solar, and wind-solar hybrids in India. And the Global Geothermal Development Plan mobilizes new concessional financing for risky and capital intensive upstream phases of geothermal development to catalyze investment in all other stages of the value chain, unlocking geothermal potential from Indonesia to the Caribbean.

    In countries with low energy access, the priority is provide people with affordable and reliable electricity access. Grid, mini-grid, and off-grid solutions are pursued, while engagement in cleaner cooking and heating solutions is expanding. The Bank is supporting countries in their efforts to increase access to cleaner, more efficient cooking and heating solutions, with projects in more than 15 countries, including regional programs in Asia, Africa and Central America. 

    Countries vary greatly in their ability to transition to sustainable energy sources and in some cases, natural gas is an important bridging or transitional fuel.  Gas is often the least-cost means of providing a flexible source of electricity when demand and supply fluctuate. The World Bank is helping countries develop national and regional gas markets and, where it makes economic sense, use natural gas as an alternative to coal and biomass.

    We also recognize the global challenge of balancing energy for development with its impact on climate change and strive to help client countries realize affordable alternatives to coal power. There has been no WBG financing for “greenfield” coal-fired power plants since 2010.

    The World Bank also supports strategic global partnerships and programs such as the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) and Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP). ESMAP is a global knowledge and technical assistance program that supports World Bank development projects and helps shape global energy policy. It focuses on helping countries reach their 2030 energy goals through work in Energy Access, Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Subsidy Reform, and Governance, Markets, and Planning, while emphasizing Gender and Small Island Developing States. It also supports the SEforALL Knowledge Hub to generate the comprehensive data and analytical tools to help governments craft policies that attract investments and track progress toward SDG7. Key initiatives include the Global Geothermal Development Plan and Renewable Energy Resource Mapping and support to Lighting Global and EDGE Buildings. In FY14-16, ESMAP’s analytical work and technical assistance informed $4.8 billion in World Bank IDA and IBRD lending through 250 activities in 130 countries. In turn, these lending projects leveraged a further $4.6 billion from public, private, and other sources.

    Last Updated: Sep 29, 2017

  • Energy Efficiency:

    • In Mexico, with climate finance and Global Environmental Facility support, the World Bank helped implement a program to replace more than 25 million inefficient light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs, and almost two million old refrigerators with new, highly efficient ones, all targeted to low-income households.
    • The World Bank helped Bangladesh deploy 10 million energy efficient CFL bulbs, and is currently supporting the development of a large-scale LED bulb deployment, to help both urban and rural poor households with weak access to electricity.
    • In Vietnam, the World Bank supported reforms aimed at developing a competitive market that attracts private investment in electricity generation and providing incentives for energy efficiency.
    • ESMAP provides assistance to city governments, such as Da Nang in Vietnam, to develop their energy efficiency options, and serves as a knowledge clearinghouse for best practices on energy-efficient urban development.

    Renewable Energy:

    • The World Bank is lending more than $1 billion for India’s solar projects, and helping the country install up to 50 MW of floating solar technology to generate electricity without using large swathes of already scarce land.
    • With the support of the World Bank and other partners, Morocco launched the first phase of the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world. Noor 1, which is now operational, produces enough electricity for more than one million Moroccans.
    • The World Bank Group launched Scaling Solar, a one-stop shop for governments that want to attract private investors to build large-scale solar plants, but lack the purchasing power of bigger emerging markets where strong competition has driven down solar prices to virtual parity with oil, gas, and coal-fired electricity.
    • The solar home system (SHS) program in Bangladesh is currently installing over 70,000 SHS every month, making it the fastest growing program of its kind in the world. Three million systems have already been installed with support from the Bank and other development partners, providing electricity to 18 million people in the country.
    • The World Bank is reducing the risks for investors in geothermal energy in countries as diverse as Indonesia, Turkey, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Dominica, and Armenia.

    Energy Access:

    • Through Ethiopia’s Electricity Network Reinforcement and Expansion Project, the World Bank is supporting efforts to improve the reliability of the electricity network and to scale up energy access through off-grid solutions, helping provide electricity to over one million households, mostly with solar lanterns and solar home systems.
    • About 43,000 households got electricity through grid extension and off-grid renewable energy sources in Laos PDR through the Lao Rural Electrification Project, taking access levels from 15 percent in the mid-1990s to about 90 percent today.
    • In Nepal, the Village Micro Hydro project has resulted in more than 1,000 small, local hydropower plants being built and run by communities in 52 districts to meet energy needs and power economic development in rural areas.
    • In Indonesia, about 6,000 households got access to clean cooking thanks to the Indonesia Clean Stove Initiative results-based financing pilot.

    ESMAP’s Clean Stove Initiative supported China with $80 million as part of a larger World Bank program, to distribute 6 million clean cookstoves in the country’s Hebei province by 2017. It is also funding Lighting Africa, which provided almost 15 million people with basic access to electricity and leveraged over $40 million for seven IDA projects.

    Last Updated: Sep 29, 2017


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In Depth

Energy Sector Management Assistance Program

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) offers advisory services, knowledge, and toolkits for energy policy makers.

Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership

The World Bank is part of a global initiative to reduce gas flaring at oil production sites around the world.

Extractive Industries and Poverty Reduction

The Extractive Industries practice facilitates the industries’ contribution to poverty alleviation and economic growth through good ...

Unlocking Clean Cooking and Heating Solutions Key to Reaching Sustainable ...

Nearly 2.9 billion people in the developing world still use polluting fuels like wood, coal and charcoal to cook and heat their homes.

Additional Resources


Washington D.C.
Nicholas Keyes
Washington D.C.
Anita Rozowska