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renewable energy

Getting current: New tech giving more Africans access to electricity

Charles Feinstein's picture
Control room at a power station in Ghana. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst / World Bank)

Much work remains to be done to ensure reliable electricity access for Africa's citizens. A number of complications are making it difficult to achieve this UN Sustainable Development Goal. Yet access rates are expanding in many nations, and technology and design improvements offer opportunities to make rapid leaps forward. 

Of the 1.1 billion people on Earth without access to electricity, about half live in Africa. And while the World Bank’s Global Tracking Framework shows progress is being made to deliver electricity to those without, most of it is taking place in Asia. In Africa, it’s a different story.

Who are the barefoot solar sisters…and how can they help forest communities?

Ellysar Baroudy's picture
Photo credit: Lisa Brunzell / Vi Agroforestry
 
In Kenya, a group of Maasai grandmothers provide an inspiring example of how simple actions can transform societies and how, when empowered, women can break down barriers between men and women.

These women never had the opportunity to attend school. But now aged between 40 and 50 years old, they found themselves with a new task. They received training and were tasked with installing and maintaining solar lighting systems in their villages.
 

African women help their communities go solar

Carolyn Lucey's picture

Also available in: Arabic | Spanish

Wamayo’s solar lantern has helped her tailoring business grow.



This number cannot be emphasized enough – more than 1 billion people around the world live without access to electricity, and 2.9 billion still cook with polluting, harmful fuel like firewood and dung.

As we celebrate Earth Day, we're looking at the ways to bring energy access to those communities and transform lives, and at the same time, protect our planet’s resources. How can we make sure that the right progress for communities is the right progress for the planet? 

The good news is that the world is constantly coming up with new technology to address this challenge. We have portable, phone-charging solar lamps and energy efficient cookstoves that are affordable and practical for communities living off-the-grid. The challenge now is how to make sure the right technologies are available in affordable and sustainable ways to the communities that need them most.

Solar Sister is a social enterprise that recruits, trains, and supports African women launch clean-energy businesses in their communities, selling lights and cookstoves to their neighbors. We are organized around the principle that women must be intentionally included in discussions around energy.

Empowering a greener future

Mafalda Duarte's picture
CIF launches annual report that marks 2015 as year of achievements
 CIF
Photo: World Bank Group


This is Morocco’s Noor 1 concentrated solar power plant, the first phase of what will eventually be the largest concentrated solar power plant in the world. It is an impressive sight—visible even from space–and it holds the promise of supplying over 500 megawatts of power to over a million Moroccans by 2018. It also embodies the power of well-placed concessional financing to stimulate climate action. Low cost, long term financing totaling $435 million provided by the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) has served as a spark to attract the public and private investments needed to build this massive facility, and it is just one example of how the CIF is empowering a greener, more resilient future.

Four things you can do during Earth Hour to fight energy poverty

Andy Shuai Liu's picture



On March 19, millions of people across the globe will turn their lights off for one hour. For many, Earth Hour is a time to recognize and acknowledge the array of challenges our world faces on energy, climate, and poverty.

Well over a billion people still live without electricity. Almost 3 billion still use air-polluting and carbon-emitting solid fuels (such as wood, coal and dung) for cooking and heating.
 
Some of us have seen these numbers so many times, they no longer seem as alarming as they should. Their impact has worn thin... So to recognize this reality for millions of our fellow human beings and to raise awareness of energy poverty, here are a few things you can do for Earth Hour on Saturday, March 19:

Innovative Africa for a better tomorrow

Teodoro De Jesus Xavier Poulson's picture
Despite a decade of strong growth, Sub-Saharan Africa still faces a number of social and economic challenges. These range from access to education, off-the-grid electricity, clean water, job creation and public infrastructure. While there is no silver bullet, one word is inspiring millions – innovation.
 

Delivering on the Paris agreement: Is there a carbon pricing opportunity for India?

Thomas Kerr's picture
Photo: Simone D. McCourtie / World Bank


Negotiators in Paris last December achieved a previously unattainable consensus among all countries — large and small, industrialized and developing — on a target for minimizing climate change.
 
They agreed to hold planetary warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, which can only happen by drastically cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.
 
Adhering to the target requires a de facto energy revolution that transforms economies and societies by weaning the world from dependence on fossil fuels. The magnitude of the task means strategies and spending on a scale far exceeding previous efforts. 

Drum roll…Presenting the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant!

Mafalda Duarte's picture

Also available in: العربية | Spanish

Noor concentrated solar power plant is expected to supply 1.1 million of Moroccans with 500 MW of power by 2018. Photo: World Bank


Concentrated Solar Power is the greatest energy technology you have probably never heard of.  While it may not be as widely known as other renewable energy sources, there’s no doubting its potential - the International Energy Agency estimates that up to 11 percent of the world’s electricity generation in 2050 could come from CSP.  

And this week in Morocco, the King, His Majesty Mohammed VI, is officially opening the first phase of what will eventually be the largest CSP plant in the world – the same size as Morocco’s capital city Rabat.  I congratulate Morocco for taking a leadership role that has placed it on the frontlines of a revolution that is bringing low-carbon development to emerging and developing economies worldwide.
 
In collaboration with the World Bank and the African Development Bank, the CIF has already provided US$435 million into this three-phase Noor CSP complex in Morocco.

Are stars aligning for clean energy financing?

Håvard Halland's picture
How sovereign and hybrid funds may help address climate change 

Solar power in FYR Macedonia. Photo by Tomislav Georgiev / World Bank.


One of the biggest bangs at the opening day of the Paris COP21 climate summit was without doubt the dual financing announcements by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, led by Bill Gates and other high-net-worth individuals, and the Mission Innovation, whose signatory governments have committed to doubling their allocations to clean energy research. The two initiatives aim to increase financing for clean energy innovation, from the basic research stage, funded by governments, to commercialization of promising new technologies—with venture financing provided by private investors.

In developing countries, where many households and companies have very limited access to energy, new clean energy technologies will serve the dual purpose of expanding energy access and constraining carbon emissions. For this to happen, innovative thinking will be needed not only in the development of new technology, but also in financing the deployment of these technologies.

The two initiatives announced in Paris reflect the realization that carbon dioxide emissions would continue to rise even if every commitment to cut carbon emissions were fulfilled. By 2035, the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere will already exceed the estimated levels required to maintain the internationally agreed 2 degrees Celsius limit. The development of new technologies will increase the options available to efficiently address climate change.

Renewable energy export-import: a win-win for the EU and North Africa

Sameh Mobarek's picture

Also available in: Arabic | French | Spanish

Rows of solar panel at a thermo-solar power plant in Morocco. Photo by Dana Smillie / World Bank.
Rows of solar panel at a thermo-solar power plant in Morocco. (Photo: Dana Smillie / World Bank)

Over the past several years much has been written about the significant potential for solar energy generation in the Middle East and North Africa, where there is no shortage of sunshine. The International Energy Agency estimated that the potential from concentrated solar power technology alone could amount to 100 times the electricity demand of North Africa, the Middle East and Europe combined.   

In the wake of commitments at the Paris climate conference (COP21), it is time to develop this rich source of low-carbon energy sitting close to Europe’s southern shores, and bolster efforts to agree on a framework to import clean, sustainable energy from North Africa. 

As recently as 2012 there have been efforts to adopt a framework that would allow importing renewable energy from Morocco to Germany—through France and Spain—but electricity trade between countries typically becomes reality when there are economic benefits for all sides. Electricity trade has the added benefit of fostering closer political ties. 

Expanding regional trade between North Africa and Europe has also been hindered by inadequate physical electrical connections between the two continents and poor physical integration in European electricity grids. There is currently only one electrical transmission interconnection between North Africa and Europe, namely the Morocco-Spain connection.  Further, Spain’s interconnection with the rest of Europe is limited, with no new transmission projects undertaken to expand this capacity for the past three decades. At the same time, Spain had excess generation capacity because of the economic downturn experienced in Europe over the past several years. That made impractical the notion of allowing North African renewable energy into the Spanish market. Italy, another potential electricity gateway from North Africa, was in a similar situation.

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