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  • Energy is at the heart of development.  Without energy, communities live in darkness, essential services such as clinics and schools suffer, and businesses operate under crippling constraints.  Energy makes possible the investments, innovations and new industries that are the engines of jobs and growth for entire economies. Universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy – Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 -- is essential to reach other SDGs and is at the center of efforts to tackle climate change.

    Today, about one billion people still live without electricity, while hundreds of millions more live with insufficient or unreliable access to it.  At the same time, 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.

    The gaps are daunting, but there is also progress on many fronts. 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. Sharply lower costs for clean energy is 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.

    The World Bank is committed to helping countries implement the 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 once and for all.

    Last Updated: Oct 03, 2018

  • The World Bank is committed to helping countries deliver affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all, as called for in SDG7. This work is central to delivering on the World Bank’s primary mandate: ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

    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 institution is significantly ramping up its support to energy access, in response to demand from client countries. Between FY2014-18, the World Bank committed $5 billion to energy access programs, of which $1.4 billion was committed in FY2018 alone
    • Over the last four years, the World Bank contributed to better electricity access for more than 45 million people.
    • In clean cooking and heating, the World Bank manages a portfolio of more than $318 million, with programs in 14 countries including Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Senegal and Uganda. These programs have helped 11 million people get access to cleaner, more efficient cooking and heating solutions.

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

    • Between FY2014 and FY2018, the World Bank provided more than $11.5 billion in financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency.
    • In the past four years, the World Bank on average has financed 25 percent of all solar mini-grid projects in developing countries.
    • 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.

    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 under 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.

    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,, 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 03, 2018

    • Ethiopia’s National Electrification Plan, launched in 2017, puts the focus entirely on “last-mile service delivery” for households, schools, and local health centers.  The World Bank is currently supporting this 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 Nigeria, the new $350 million electrification program is expected to leverage $410 million in private investment and create a vibrant market for mini grid and off-grid energy solutions.

    • In Haiti, the World Bank is enabling private sector investments by helping to build a more business-friendly policy and regulatory environment. The “Modern Energy Services for All” project is expected to leverage at least US$48m from the private sector and the “Renewable Energy for All” has identified strong potential for private sector investments in small and medium-sized grids, municipal village grids, and individual off-grid systems for productive and household uses.

    • In Kenya, the World Bank is supporting more than $1.3 billion of geothermal generation, transmission, distribution, off-grid and clean cooking investments.  This has helped Kenya expand electricity access rates from 23 percent in 2009 to about 42 percent (about 4 million households) in 2015.  A recently approved $150 million Kenya Off-Grid Solar Access Project is designed to provide service to another 240,000 households and to establish the framework to reach 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 projected to save 1 million tons per year in greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to taking 215,000 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. It is expected to help scale up the deployment of energy saving measures in India’s residential and public sectors and avoid 170 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over its lifetime.

    • In Bangladesh, the World Bank supports the largest off-grid program in the world, powering 4.2 million households through 1.4 million solar home systems, 1,000 solar irrigation pumps, and 17 solar-based mini-grids. More than 18.5 million people in rural areas now have reliable access to solar-powered electricity through this program, which has created 70,000 jobs.

    • A $480m IBRD renewable energy guarantee is helping mobilize $3.2bn in investment in Argentina’s renewable energy sector. The project 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 RenovAr renewable auctions, supported by this guarantee, 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.

    • Rwanda’s Electricity Access Scale Up and Sector Wide Approach Project is the largest single project contributing to the country’s Electricity Access Rollout Program, which was launched in 2009. Between 2009 and 2017, the project has connected nearly 1.2 million people to the power grid, and helped take electricity to 88% of schools, 76% of health centers and more than 94% of administrative centers in the country. Thanks to the Program, the rate of grid-connected electricity access in Rwanda has risen to 29% in 2016, compared to just 10% in 2009.

    • Thanks to a $400 million IDA credit, 750,000 households will be connected to the grid by 2021 and off-grid electricity will be extended to another 500,000 households in Myanmar. The project will also provide electricity to 23,000 clinics, schools and religious buildings and fund technical assistance to build capacity among local staff to implement the plan, improve policies and regulation around electricity and renewable energy, and develop a framework to for future electrification and results monitoring, with the goal of taking electricity to everyone in Myanmar by 2030.

    Last Updated: Oct 03, 2018


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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.
Aarthi Sivaraman