Energy is fundamental to economic growth and environmental sustainability. Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is vital to ending extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. Modern energy services can help improve the quality of life for millions around the world and underpin progress in all areas of development.

Around 1.1 billion people worldwide—roughly the population of India— still live without access to electricity with most concentrated in Africa and Asia. Another 2.9 billion rely on wood or other biomass for cooking and heating, resulting in indoor and outdoor air pollution attributable for 4.3 million deaths each year.

The World Bank’s engagement in the energy sector is aimed at supporting developing countries to secure the affordable, reliable and sustainable energy supply needed to end poverty and promote shared prosperity. We assist countries to pursue environmentally, financially, fiscally and socially sustainable energy sector development.

The UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) Initiative, co-led by the World Bank, aims to accomplish three goals by 2030: universal access to electricity and clean cooking fuels; doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, and doubling the improvement rate of energy efficiency.

These goals form the basis of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on energy, or SDG 7, one of 17 goals that aim to address the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development by 2030.

Eighty-five countries have opted in to the SE4All initiative and many public, private and non-governmental actors support its implementation. The World Bank is working with many countries to help achieve these goals. In doing so, we aim to take a long-term holistic approach, emphasizing the need to build strong financial, operational, and institutional frameworks for sustainable energy systems. We also seek to foster private sector participation and investment; embrace a multi-stakeholder, inclusive approach to the development of energy projects and to acknowledge and reflect individual country circumstances.

The World Bank acts as a knowledge hub for SE4All, leading numerous agencies in major collaborative projects to monitor and report on energy development outcomes.

This led to the Global Tracking Framework, a suite of indicators and an accompanying data platform, which make it possible to track progress of all countries in the world towards the energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy goals.

Another recent project, Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy (RISE), provides indicators that compare the investment climate in countries across the three focus areas of the SE4All initiatives.

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2015

Expanding access to modern energy services is a cornerstone of the World Bank’s energy objectives, as laid out in the Bank Group’s Energy Sector Directions Paper

In countries with low energy access, the priority is providing affordable and reliable energy. Grid, mini-grid, and off-grid solutions are pursued, while engagement in cleaner cooking and heating solutions is expanding.

The Bank Group supports development of energy systems based on lowest-cost options with an emphasis on renewable sources such as hydropower, wind, solar and geothermal, while also promoting energy efficiency. Projects support achievement of universal access to electricity and modern household fuels, as well as improved utility performance and sector governance.

We are scaling up efforts to improve energy efficiency, and support all forms of renewable energy. The World Bank is helping countries develop national and regional gas markets and where it makes economic sense, use natural gas as a lower-carbon energy source. We also focus on long-term energy planning, and promote market solutions—supported by the right policy, regulatory and contractual frameworks—to increase the leverage of our financial resources.

The World Bank also supports strategic technical assistance initiatives through global partnerships and trust funds such as the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) and the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR). These initiatives include the Sustainable Energy for All Technical Assistance Program to help countries reach the 2030 goal of universal energy access, the Global Geothermal Development Plan, Lighting Africa, Lighting Asia, and Renewable Energy Resource Mapping, Energy Efficiency Guidance Notes and the Energy Subsidy Reform Technical Assistance and Delivery Facility.

We 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. The Bank Group will only provide financial support for green-field coal power generation projects in rare circumstances. 

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2015

World Bank Group energy financing, including IBRD, IDA, IFC and MIGA guarantees, has topped $49 billion since 2010, of which over $21 billion was for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. World Bank Group financing in the sector totaled $6.5 billion in FY15.

Energy Access:

In FY15, there were 23 active projects worth $1.2 billion. Between 2013 and 2015, Bank Group financing brought new or improved electricity supply to nearly 29 million people.

For example, 43,000 households got electricity through grid extension and off-grid renewable energy sources in Laos through the Lao Rural Electrification Project, taking access levels from 15 percent in the mid-1990s to about 90 percent today. In Bangladesh, 18.5 million people now have electricity—delivered by solar panels—thanks to a major project partly financed by the Bank’s IDA arm.

Energy Efficiency:

In FY15, there were 51 energy efficiency projects/project components in the Bank’s portfolio for a total of $3.2 billion. The World Bank is providing financial and analytical support for a $104.3 million Green Energy for a Low-Carbon City in Shanghai project, featuring energy efficiency and renewable energy measures in buildings, clean energy from renewable and natural gas and energy-efficient vehicles and public transport. Similar initiatives are under way in eight other Chinese cities.

ESMAP also 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:

A 100MW Sere wind plant in South Africa under the Eskom Renewables Support Project is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by up to six million tons over 20 years. With an average annual energy production of about 298,000 MWh, Sere will supply sufficient energy to the grid to power approximately 124,000 standard homes. Morocco is finalizing the construction of the first 160 MW Noor I solar power plant to be commissioned in the next few months and has started construction of the phase II of Noor, which will more than double the capacity.

Support for hydropower has included financing for the Bujagali run-of-river hydropower project, now meeting half of Uganda’s electricity needs and that has nearly eliminated blackouts. Two IDA credits supported the Felou hydroelectric project, increasing low-cost power to utilities in Mali, Mauritania and Senegal by 63 MW. The Bank is also helping boost geothermal power generation capacity in South Sumatra and North Sulawesi in Indonesia with the aim of adding 150 MW of capacity.

A recent analytical product that brings the energy and extractives industries together is “Power of the Mine: A Transformative Opportunity for Sub-Saharan Africa.” The report suggests that mining companies—with their large demand for power—can become anchor customers to national electricity utilities, in turn helping to expand electricity access to communities and enterprise consumers in Africa. 

Last Updated: Sep 16, 2015

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