Energy is at the heart of development. Without energy, communities live in darkness, essential services such as clinics and schools can barely function, and businesses operate under crippling constraints. Energy also makes possible the investments, innovations and new industries that are the engines of jobs and growth for entire economies.
At the World Bank, we are committed to helping countries ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all, as called for in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #7. This work is central to delivering on World Bank’s primary mandate: ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity.
Access to sufficient and sustainable energy is also essential to reaching other SDGs, and is at the center of efforts to tackle climate change.
Roughly one billion people live without electricity. Hundreds of millions more live with insufficient or unreliable electricity. At the same time, approximately 3 billion people cook or heat their homes with polluting fuels like wood or other biomass, resulting in indoor and outdoor air pollution that has widespread health impacts.
New large-scale approaches that combine grid and off-grid electrification have contributed to impressive gains in energy access in a number of countries. In others, mini-grids are showing promise in closing the access gap. At the same time, solar home systems are increasing in efficiency as they decrease in cost – making them affordable to consumers in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Globally, the energy sector is going through a revolution. Renewable energy costs have dropped precipitously in the last ten years, and energy storage such as batteries are starting to show the same pattern. The world now adds more renewable power capacity annually than it adds in net new capacity from all fossil fuels combined. Disruptive technologies are starting to be widely deployed, such as smart grids, smart meters and geospatial data systems that have upturned energy planning.
The new dynamics of energy – modern grids powered by increasingly large shares of renewable energy; broad programmatic approaches that are leading to significant expansions in energy access; a commitment to action at the municipal, sub-national, national and international levels; and sustained engagement and investment by the private sector – are leading to exciting new opportunities.
It is now possible to reduce outages that hamper daily life and business development, while keeping electricity costs low. It is now possible to substantially increase energy access while reducing the impact of power generation on local pollution and carbon emissions. It is now possible to bring services such as refrigeration and lighting, at low cost and high efficiency, to communities that could once only dream of them.
At the World Bank, we are seizing these opportunities.
Last Updated: Apr 10, 2018