Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out


  • Energy is at the heart of development.  Energy makes possible the investments, innovations and new industries that are the engines of jobs, inclusive growth and shared prosperity for entire economies. Universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable and modern energy – Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 -- is essential to reach other SDGs and is at the center of efforts to tackle climate change. The World Bank is committed to helping countries reach SDG7, which is central to delivering on the World Bank’s primary mandate: ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

    Access to reliable energy is also critical to preventing, fighting and recovering from COVID-19 and building resilience to future pandemics. In this new context, the World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their response and health care systems.

    Today, 840 million people live without electricity and hundreds of millions more live with insufficient or unreliable access to it.  Nearly 3 billion people cook or heat their homes with polluting fuels like wood or other biomass, resulting in indoor and outdoor air pollution that cause widespread health impacts.

    While the gaps are daunting, significant progress is being made in many areas. The global energy landscape is witnessing a major transformation and renewable energy is playing an increasingly vital role in helping countries develop modern, secure energy systems.  Lower costs for clean energy are helping with this transition, while disruptive technologies like smart grids, smart meters and geospatial data systems have upturned energy planning.

    New large-scale approaches that combine grid and off-grid electrification have also contributed to impressive gains in energy access in many 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 in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which are regions that account for the most significant gaps in energy access.

    Last Updated: Apr 16, 2020

  • The World Bank is committed to helping countries implement economically smart and tailored approaches that best suit their needs, and supports technological, financial and policy innovations that can help accelerate the expansion of reliable and affordable electricity services and end energy poverty.

    To that end, the World Bank has a long track record of supporting the expansion of energy access, both on- and off-grid, and rural and urban electrification. The World Bank is also actively mobilizing private sector investment in energy access projects – particularly mini-grid and off-grid initiatives – by helping to put in place enabling policies, demonstrating viable business models, and providing seed funding that can be used to leverage commercial financing.

    The World Bank has also ramped up its efforts to help developing countries accelerate their transition to clean energy in recent years, including through technological, policy and financial innovation.

    Under the Climate Change Action Plan adopted in 2016, the World Bank will use multiple instruments to de-risk renewable energy investments with a cumulative target of adding 20 gigawatts in renewable energy generation. Through a combination of policies and investments in power systems, the World Bank will enable a further 10 gigawatts of renewables to be integrated into grids.

    This shift toward cleaner sources of energy will lead to greater demand for minerals and metals used in the manufacturing of many solar, wind and storage technologies. The World Bank is working with countries to strengthen sector governance to manage the impacts from mining and to ensure sustainable, equitable development.

    Recognizing that energy storage is critical to accelerate the global energy transition, the World Bank in 2018 announced a $1 billion global program to accelerate investments in battery storage in developing and middle-income countries, with the goal of attracting another $4 billion in public and private financing.  Recently, the United Kingdom pledged $250 million in concessional climate funds to support this work in collaboration with the Climate Investment Funds’ Global Energy Storage Program.  

    In December 2017, the World Bank Group announced it will no longer finance upstream oil and gas after 2019, with special consideration only in exceptional circumstances.  The World Bank will continue to provide technical assistance that helps our client countries strengthen the transparency, governance, institutional capacity and regulatory environment of their energy sectors – including in oil and gas.

    The World Bank has not financed coal-fired power plants since 2010. We would only finance coal plants in rare circumstances, such as when there are no feasible alternatives to meet basic energy needs.

    The World Bank also supports strategic global partnerships such as the Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR) and the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), and provides foundational and ground-breaking research, advisory products and analysis.

    Last Updated: Oct 11, 2019

  • Between FY2014-18, the World Bank committed $5 billion to energy access programs, of which $1.4 billion was committed in FY2018 alone. In that period, the World Bank also directly contributed to providing new electricity connections for more than 52 million people.

    The Bank has an active lending portfolio of over $350 million in clean cooking and heating projects across 21 countries, helping over 3.6 million households and 18 million people with improved access to more efficient, cleaner cooking and heating solutions.

    Between FY2014-18, the World Bank provided more than $11.5 billion in financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Clean energy represented 35% of the total WB energy portfolio in this period.

    A selection of country-level results are as below:

    • In Ethiopia, the National Electrification Plan puts the focus squarely on “last-mile service delivery” for households, schools and local health centers, with an emphasis on reliable and affordable access for all.  The World Bank is currently supporting the National Plan through a $375 million IDA credit that will help bring electricity to one million households, and pilot new approaches for off-grid electrification. In March 2019, Ethiopia launched an updated version of the Plan (NEP 2.0), which includes a detailed framework for the integration of off-grid technologies with grid connectivity to achieve universal access by 2025.
    • In Nigeria, a new $350 million World Bank electrification project will help bring power to 500,000 households, 70,000 small businesses, 37 universities, and 12 teaching hospitals. Mini-grids will be the primary channel to deliver electricity in rural areas. The World Bank worked with Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency to use the latest geospatial mapping technology to map more than 250 sites for mini-grid development.
    • In Haiti, the World Bank is enabling private sector investments by helping to build a more business-friendly policy and regulatory environment. The $16 million “Modern Energy Services for All” project is expected to leverage at least $48m from the private sector.
    • In Kenya, the World Bank supports more than $1.3 billion of generation, transmission, distribution and off-grid investments.  This has helped Kenya more than double electricity access rates from 23 percent in 2009 to 56 percent in 2016.  A recently approved $150 million off-grid is designed to provide service to another 240,000 households living in more remote and poorer areas, and to establish the framework for serving Kenya’s remaining off-grid population.
    • The World Bank is supporting India with two major energy initiatives -- to increase solar generation to 100 GW by 2022 with $1 billion in lending, and to scale up its energy efficiency program on a national level. One example is support to the 750 MW Rewa Ultra Mega Solar Ltd. Project, which has doubled the solar capacity of the state of Madhya Pradesh and is one of the largest single-site solar plants in the world. The project is expected to avoid 0.6 million tons per year in greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to taking more than 135,000 cars off the road every year. The India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program with a $220 million IBRD loan and a first ever $80 million IBRD guarantee underscores a growing partnership with the country to help tackle its huge energy efficiency challenge. Between April 2017 and May 2019, EESL deployed 118 million LED bulbs and tube lights, 1.6 million energy efficient fans, and over 4.7 million LED street lights supported by the $220 million India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program for Results lending operation. These measures are expected to generate an estimated 15,700 GWh of energy savings and avoid 12.7 million tons of CO2 emissions each year. On a lifetime basis, energy savings associated with this deployment is about 111,600 GWh of electricity and corresponding avoided CO2 emissions of nearly 90 million tons.
    • In Bangladesh, the World Bank supports the largest off-grid program in the world, powering 2.5 million beneficiaries households through 1.2 million solar home systems, 867 solar irrigation pumps, and 20 solar-based mini-grids and 1.4 million efficient cookstoves. More than 6.84 million people in rural areas now have reliable access to solar-powered electricity through this program, which has created 70,000 jobs.
    • In 2009, Rwanda launched its nationwide Electricity Access Rollout Program, which aligned electrification efforts and international support around national policies and priorities. The result has been a tripling of the share of people connected to the grid (from just 10% in 2009 to 29% in 2016), and extension of electricity to schools, health centers and administrative centers in the country. The World Bank is now helping Rwanda integrate off-grid solar technologies in the national electrification program, with the objective to expand mini-grid and off-grid solar solutions to provide electricity to 48% of its population.
    • Thanks to a $400 million IDA credit, 215,000 households and over 8,000 clinics, schools and religious buildings have already been electrified in Myanmar through off-grid renewable electricity.  Another 640,000 households will be connected to the grid by 2021 and off-grid electricity will be extended to 300,000 additional households. The project will also provide electricity to 13,000 more clinics, schools and religious buildings and fund technical assistance to build capacity among local staff to implement the plan and improve policies with the goal of achieving universal access by 2030.
    • Two IBRD guarantees for $730 million are helping establish RenovAr, a program that is mobilizing $5.5bn in investments in Argentina’s renewable energy sector. The RenovAr program is expected to reduce GHG emissions substantially over 20 years, with benefits including reduced air pollution and fossil fuel use, and a more secure energy supply. The renewable energy auctions, supported by these guarantees, are now bringing in private investors at competitive prices for renewable energy (about 4 to 6 USc/kWh) - lower than the average cost of electricity generation (about $0.07/kWh in 2015) and decreasing with each round. This will help Argentina benefit from its abundant renewable resources and ultimately help it achieve its target to produce 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
    • Recent research (much of it supported by ESMAP) includes:
      • Tracking SDG7: Progress Toward Sustainable Energy (formerly GTF) - an annual update on country-level progress on the 2030 sustainable energy goals in energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
      • Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) - a snapshot of a country’s policies and regulations in the energy sector when it comes to access, efficiency and renewable energy.
      • The Multi-Tier Framework (MTF) - a new metric for assessing household access to energy, and related surveys in 15 countries. MTF measures the quality of energy access beyond traditional connections, capturing the full range of grid and off-grid solutions.
    • Other publicly available tools include a Global Solar Atlas that tracks solar potential globally; Global Wind Atlas provides access to wind resource data, Energydata.info, a fast-growing database of energy-related open-source GIS data; and the Mini-Grid Support Facility which is mainstreaming mini-grids thorough both global and project-level activities.

    Last Updated: Oct 11, 2019


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In Depth


Global Solar Atlas

A free tool to identify sites for solar power generation anywhere in the world. Check out a similar tool for wind power below.

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 governance and sustainable development.

Additional Resources


Washington D.C.
Emmanouela Markoglou