What energy stories did you like in 2016?

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From solar panels in Bangladesh and Bolivia and cleaner cookstoves in Kenya to energy access for Syrian refugees, new apps to visualize global energy use and energy storage for the future, you, our readers, showed us very clearly what topics you like to hear about.
We brought the remotest parts of Bolivia to your laptop or smartphone in the form of a video where rural Bolivians told you how solar power has transformed their lives. Women entrepreneurs in Kenya and Mali told you about the power of clean cooking and solar power. And our energy specialists underscored the need to tackle energy access challenges for refugees and told you why Zambia’s solar auction was a game changer. 
Throughout 2016, you shared, liked, retweeted and commented – proving to us that you care as deeply about energy issues as we do, especially after the historic Paris agreement went into force earlier this year. We love that you are plugged into these issues, and will strive to bring you more of these stories in 2017.
Here’s a recap of the stories that captivated you in 2016:
1.   Bangladesh’s Farmers, Small Business Owners Prosper with Solar Power 
In Bangladesh’s remotest islands, scores of people are turning to the sun when they cannot connect to an electricity grid.  Mini grids – or clusters of solar panels – in islands like Monpura and agricultural villages like Saidpur are helping small business owners and farmers access affordable and reliable electricity, improve productivity and climb the rungs of economic prosperity.

2.   How Do We Take Energy Access To The Uprooted? 

Did you know that nine out of 10 refugees around the world live in settlements that lack access to electricity ? And that a refugee ends up living in a camp for 17 years on average? Not surprisingly, the refugee crisis today is as much a global energy challenge as it is a humanitarian one.  
3.   Solar Power Lights Up Rural Bolivia 

How do you turn on a light at night when you’ve left the power grid far, far behind?  In Bolivia, the solution is solar power. Learn how solar energy can be the fuel of the future and is already working for more than 360,000 rural Bolivian households  who don’t live anywhere close to electricity lines.

4.   Powering Sub-Saharan Africa – A Fresh Take On An Old Problem  
Africa lags every other region in the world when it comes to electricity access for its people. Is there a way for the poor in Africa to have access to reliable and affordable power and for the utilities that supply subsidized electricity to stay profitable at the same time?

Our report says it is. Here is what we learned:

5.   Solar: The Clean, Game-Changer Fuel 

Once a distant possibility, solar power is now a game changer for developing countries  that are swiftly embracing this clean, renewable source of energy to close their electricity access gaps and meet climate change mitigation goals.

6.   Eyes In The Sky Help Track Rural Electrification 

Electricity is integral to people’s well-being across the world. But how can we know who has electricity and who doesn’t? Now, there’s an app for that. 

NightLights.io monitors and visualizes four billion lights on earth each day.  Capturing this wealth of data was made possible by 1,300 satellites currently in orbit. This visualization can be a powerful tool to supplement government efforts to ensure universal electricity access.


7.   Kenya Cooks With Improved Stoves 

These ladies in Kenya make mouth-watering meals faster than ever before, with way less smoke in their kitchens . How? Through these new, cleaner cookstoves that use less firewood and help women in rural Kenya save money and time and reduce the impact on their health. Some of them are even using the extra time to become budding entrepreneurs.

8.   Why Zambia’s 6 Cents Is More Significant Than Dubai’s 3 Cents 

In 2016, Zambia set a new price record for utility-scale solar-generated energy in Africa.  This is good news for the country and the region, since nearly 700 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa don’t have access to electricity even today. The auction is dramatically shifting perceptions that low costs for renewable energy are unattainable in poor countries with weak institutions, underdeveloped laws, and high costs for conducting business. Here’s why that matters:


9. Energy Storage: A Critical Piece Of The Power Puzzle 

Solar costs are dropping, and are at an all-time low right now, with prices projected to fall even further in coming years. So what do we have to figure out next in the global efforts to provide sustainable energy for all?  That would be a viable, stationary solution to store energy, especially from sources like solar. And we still have a ways to go.


10. Gandhigiri Can Make Solar Work For India 

Can Indian households use their roofs to generate much-needed solar power, not just dry laundry and spices?  This blog post shows that the day is not far off when rooftop solar products in India will be sold as commonly as TVs or cars. 

Have other favorite energy news stories, videos or blog posts from 2016? Share your pick with us in the comments section below.
The World Bank Energy and Extractives team wishes you a prosperous and happy 2017!


Lilia Carasciuc

Online communications producer

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