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  • 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. 

    Today, 789 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.

    COVID-19 has put a strain on electricity providers – both utilities and off-grid companies – and threatens electricity access when it is needed most. In this new context,  the World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their response and health care systems. Working with governments, the private sector, and other partners, we provide technical advice and project funding to address the pandemic and beyond.

    Last Updated: Jul 13, 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.

    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 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.

    In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been re-purposing and accelerating energy operations to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy solutions for hospitals and other critical health facilities, including testing laboratories and cold chains for medicine and vaccines, as well as solar-powered water pumps.

    To scale up financing and action on clean cooking, the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) established a $500 million Clean Cooking Fund in 2019, aiming to increase public and private investments in the clean cooking sector by catalyzing technology and business innovations and linking incentives with verified results.

    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.

    Recognizing that energy storage is critical to accelerate the global energy transition, in 2019, the World Bank convened a global Energy Storage Partnership with over 35 organizations to help expand energy storage and renewable energy in developing countries by building energy storage solutions tailored to their needs. The Partnership complements the Bank’s $1 billion battery storage program, which aims to finance 17.5 gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery storage by 2025 – more than triple the 4-5 GWh currently installed in all developing countries.

    In September 2019, the United Kingdom also pledged $250 million to the Climate Investment Fund (CIF), which provides highly concessional funds for storage investments by partnering with MDBs in developing countries. The CIF’s Clean Technology Fund is supporting World Bank battery storage projects in Burkina Faso, India, Maldives, South Africa and Tanzania. France and the Netherlands also pledged $100 million to the Solar Risk Mitigation Initiative (SRMI), which aims to support countries with sustainable solar programs. These funds will support several initiatives including our Regional Off-Grid Electrification Project in the West Africa and Sahel region, which aims to deliver electricity access or improved services to 1.7 million people.

    The shift to renewable energy and the use of batteries is leading to greater demand for certain minerals and metals needed to deploy these technologies. The resulting demand underscores a need to strengthen sector governance to manage the impacts from mining and emphasize the need for a circular economy to unlock the opportunities of low-carbon, climate resilient growth.

    Per the WBG announcement in December 2017, we ceased to finance upstream oil and gas in 2019. Only in exceptional circumstances will consideration be given to financing upstream gas in the poorest countries where there is a clear benefit in terms of energy access for the poor and the project fits within the countries’ Paris Agreement commitments.

    The World Bank Group has not financed a new coal-fired power plant since 2010 and has no active coal-fired power generation in its pipeline. The Bank will support countries transitioning away from coal by helping close coal mines and ensure a just transition for affected communities.

    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: Jul 13, 2020

  • Over the last five years, we committed $6.2 billion to energy access programs, of which $1.7 billion was committed in FY19 alone. Over the last three years, we helped countries provide new electricity connections to over 30 million people. And just in the past two years, we committed about $1 billion for mini grids and stand-alone off-grid systems, with over 80% of new commitments in Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Currently, the World Bank has an active lending portfolio of $387 million in clean cooking and heating projects across 24 countries, helping over 5.7 million households and 23.6 million people with improved access to more efficient, cleaner cooking and heating solutions.

    Recognizing that renewable energy and energy efficiency play a pivotal role in development and in tackling climate change, over the last five years, we also provided $9.4 billion in financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in low- and middle-income countries.

    Below is a selection of country-level results:

    • In The Gambia, we helped the country move from having three hours of electricity per day in 2017 to securing continuous power supply in 2020 and we laid the foundations for reforms for achieving universal access by 2025 with a cleaner and more affordable energy mix.
    • In Kenya, over the last decade, we have been helping implement a $1.3 billion program aimed at improving the reliability and affordability of energy access employing a comprehensive approach that includes investing in generation, transmission, and distribution, while increasing the affordability of grid connections and investing in mini grid and off-grid solutions for remote areas. As a result, our work has contributed to helping Kenya more than triple electricity access rates from 23% in 2009 to an estimated 75% in 2019. We are now supporting the government in its effort to reach the remaining unelectrified population.
    • In Bangladesh, the World Bank supports the largest off-grid program in the world, through 1.2 million solar home systems, 867 solar irrigation pumps, 20 solar-based mini grids and 1.4 million efficient cookstoves. More than 6.8 million people in rural areas now have reliable access to solar-powered electricity through this program, which has created 70,000 jobs.
    • In Rwanda, our policy development work is expected to help the country reach near-universal electricity access by 2024, up from just 6% in 2009; promote energy efficiency; and increase the share of solar and hydro power in the country’s energy mix, ultimately helping it reach its Paris Climate Agreement goals.
    • 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. Between April 2017 and December 2019, EESL deployed over 128 million LED bulbs and tube lights, 1.6 million energy efficient ceiling fans, and 6.2 million LED streetlights supported by the $220 million India Energy Efficiency Scale-Up Program for Results lending operation. These measures are expected to generate an estimated 17,200 GWh of energy savings and help avoid 13.9 million tons of CO2 emissions each year. On a lifetime basis, energy savings associated with this deployment is about 122,300 GWh of electricity and corresponding avoided CO2 emissions of nearly 100 million tons.
    • Since 2015, the World Bank has been supporting the Government of Myanmar to implement the National Electrification Project (NEP) (IDA $400 million), that is expanding electricity services through a combination of grid extension, mini grids and off-grid solar solutions. As one of the first countries to adopt a geospatial least-cost electrification planning approach, Myanmar has provided 1.5 million people with electricity access from approximately 285,000 off-grid villages and 700 grid-connected villages. In an effort to reach remote communities with grid quality service, 73 mini grid projects (mainly solar) have been approved and are currently in various implementation stage; more than 1200 businesses benefit of mini grid electricity for productive use. Moreover, 400,000 households mainly located in remote, border areas are expected to benefit of solar home systems (SHSs) under current contractual commitments. About 50,000 health, education, religious facilities and street lighting have been installed through grid, mini grid and off-grid solar solutions. Beside investments, the project provides technical assistance for strengthening project implementation capacity. 
    • Two IBRD guarantees for $730 million have helped establish RenovAr, a program that is to mobilize $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, have brought in private investors at competitive prices for renewable energy (about 4 to 6 USc/kWh) - lower than the average cost of electricity generation (about 7 USc/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% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
    • 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. The project aims to 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 $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.

    Recent research we helped support includes:

    • 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.
    • The 2020 Off-Grid Solar Market Trends report - an in-depth analysis on current market dynamics, projections for the coming five years, and a blueprint for how actors in this market can compete in a swiftly evolving industry ecosystem.

    Other publicly available tools include the Global Electrification Platform which maps publicly available geospatial data from countries with electricity access below 90% to show what steps countries can take to reach SDG 7, the Global Solar Atlas that tracks solar potential globally, the Global Wind Atlas which 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: Jul 13, 2020


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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.
Anita Rozowska