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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:

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.

Eyes in the sky help track rural electrification

Kwawu Mensan Gaba's picture
Front page of with an overview of India.
“ is a path-breaking platform that will transform the way the world solves the global challenge of energy availability. The tool will help us... provide energy solutions... to people who need it most.” — Tejpreet Chopra, President and CEO of Bharat Light and Power

Electricity is integral to people’s well-being across the world. With electricity, children can study at night, women can walk home more safely on well-lit streets, and businesses can stay open well past dusk.
However, more than one billion people still lack access to electricity today. Governments and electric utilities around the world are mobilizing vast sums of money to close the access gap, especially in rural areas that are home to those lacking electricity.
So, how can we determine and identify who has electricity and who doesn’t? What if we had the technology and tools to help us see lights from space every night, for every village, in every country? We could then closely monitor progress on the ground. We could even plan and optimize policies and interventions in a different manner.

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.

Twelve energy stories you enjoyed reading in 2015

Andy Shuai Liu's picture

What are some stories that caught your attention in 2015?
They are ones that focus on people, data and events tied to sustainable growth, climate action and efforts to end energy poverty.
As we look ahead to 2016 we’d like to recap 12 popular stories that many of you read and shared in 2015. Thank you for a year of continued and growing readership. Tell us in a comment what you’d like to hear more of in the next year.  

Tackling the last mile of electricity access in Cote d’Ivoire

Meike van Ginneken's picture
A crew leader of CIE, a power company working to connect low-income homes to the electric grid in Cote d'Ivoire. Photo by World Bank

"I am happy with my new electricity connection—I pay less to the utility now than what I paid someone who sold me power before," said a woman I met recently in Anono, a low-income neighborhood of Cote d’Ivoire’s capital, Abidjan.

She proudly waved her new customer card at the utility worker. “My neighbor recharges his prepaid meter less often than I do,” she said. “I want as much power as he gets. I do not have many appliances, so give me a low-ampere connection like he has.”

Her neighbors echoed her sentiment.

I was impressed by how savvy first-time utility customers are about the tradeoff between the quality of service and cost of electricity access. Our visit to Anono followed a recent evaluation of World Bank Group Support to Electricity Access from 2000 to 2014. The report shows that over those 14 years, only 14 million grid and off-grid connections were delivered, while the Bank Group financed an estimated 60.2 gigawatts of generation capacity over the same period.

The report was a wake-up call and led us to think—how do we ensure that our large investment program in generation, transmission and distribution actually translates into electricity access for more Africans? Yes, off-grid solutions, such as those implemented through our successful Lighting Africa Program, work. But we also have to invest in the last mile, or even the last few yards of the electricity supply chain, to connect people to the grid. In many countries in Africa, the "entry ticket" is what holds the poor from getting a legal connection to grid power.

Change agents: women and climate

Mafalda Duarte's picture
Women of Tajikistan
CIF is bringing attention to gender in climate investing in Tajikistan. Photo: CIF

In the arid farming lands of the Pyanj River Basin of Tajikistan, women and children spend much of their days searching for water, food and fuel. But higher temperatures, lower rainfall and less snow up in the mountain glaciers have made their job difficult, if not impossible. 

Why Finance Ministers Care About Climate Change & Sustainable Development

Rachel Kyte's picture

If you want to fundamentally change how countries use energy, value their natural environments, or combat climate change, you have to talk to the people who hold the purse strings.

That’s what we’re doing this week. Finance ministers from countries around the world are in Washington for the annual World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings. We’re talking with them about these issues and more as we help countries shift to more sustainable development.

Underlying everything: climate change. This isn’t just an environmental challenge – it’s a fundamental threat to economic development and the fight against poverty. I can’t repeat that often enough. If the world does not take bold action now, a disastrously warming planet threatens to put prosperity out of reach for millions and roll back decades of development.

The Journey to Renewable Energy Starts with a Map

Christopher Neal's picture

At the December 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference, Saad Hariri, then Prime Minister of Lebanon, announced his country’s new target for renewable energy: 12% of the national energy mix, to be achieved by 2020. This prompted an intense wind-mapping effort that concluded a year later, with an estimate that Lebanon’s onshore windpower potential is 6.1 gigawatts (GW)—more than a third of current consumption—said Pierre El-Khoury, Manager of the Lebanese Energy Ministry’s Center for Energy Conservation.

El-Khoury outlined Lebanon’s wind-mapping exercise at a Washington workshop on renewable energy resource mapping hosted by the Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) May 9. The Lebanese wind atlas, developed in collaboration with GL Garrad Hassan and Partners, and financed by UNDP and Spain, has identified eight optimal sites for wind farms, of which three will be selected for development. El-Khoury and others cited the government commitment to a target for renewable energy as a “main driver” of the resource mapping that followed.

Inclusive Green Growth Is Smart Growth, as South Korea Is Proving

Rachel Kyte's picture

One of Asia’s fastest growing economies in the last 40 years, South Korea, has emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse that has virtually eliminated poverty.  Its resilient economy survived the 2008–2009 financial crises better than almost any other country, but it is far from complacent.  Korea spends a bigger percentage of GDP on research and development than Germany, the UK and the US.

Today, Korea is a global champion of green growth with a long-term plan for transitioning to green growth and a focus on exporting green tech, and it is moving away from energy imports and energy-intensive industries.  Korea’s journey is not complete, but its progress stands as an inspiration to developing countries wherever they are in theirs.

At the second Global Green Growth Summit, in Seoul on Thursday, President Lee Myung-bak reinforced Korea’s commitment to playing a leadership role on the global stage, restating Korea’s commitment to increasing official development assistance through to 2020 and announcing that 30 percent of that ODA will be green.

Launching our report in Seoul was an excellent opportunity to further strengthen our partnership with Korea and expand our inclusive green growth knowledge base.