Today, April 14, Power for All launched a Call to Action at the World Bank Spring Meetings urging multilateral development banks (MDBs) to help radically accelerate the pace of energy access for the 1.1 billion people living in energy poverty.

We are urging MDBs to take three critical steps to create change:

  1. Utilize energy access opportunity cost assessments in funding decisions;
  2. Catalyze a dedicated energy access superfund; and,
  3. Mobilize national decentralized renewable energy accelerators (based on successful models like IDCOL) in key countries suffering from energy poverty.

Here’s why:

Grid-based energy access is too slow

A number of studies identify the inadequate levels of multilateral development bank (MDB) support for decentralized renewable energy access. Yet, there is another critical factor when it comes to ending energy poverty: the energy access opportunity cost.  

An independent report into the World Bank Group support for electricity access between 2000-2014 noted that the “median implementation time of World Bank investment projects was nine years”.

Should projects take nine years from planning phase to completion, those started today will not come online until 2025; the year at which the African Development Bank hopes to achieve universal energy access and more than two thirds of the way towards the 2030 UN Goal of Sustainable Energy for All. If development banks and others stick to business as usual, we cannot meet these targets.

Decentralized renewables provide a solution

Decentralized technologies—including decentralized solar, hydro, biomass and wind designed for households and businesses—can be deployed far more rapidly and affordably. Over a nine year period they are able to provide Tier 1-3 energy access, or higher, to hundreds of millions living in some of the world’s poorest countries.

Today, distributed renewables already provide energy services to a 100 million people and companies in the pico solar sector are estimated to be reaching nearly 2 million households per month* with basic energy services. 

Getting clean, safe power to families faster is critical for welfare and human development, improving health, education, employment and more. For each year that these gains are not extended to over a billion people living in energy poverty, there is a huge opportunity cost. One which limits the chances of a generation.

MDBs must play a key role

We are therefore calling on the MDBs to take steps that will radically accelerate the pace of energy access.

Transforming the world energy outlook requires a shift in the way we approach energy access, recognizing that even the basic introduction of modern energy can help to lift families living in the world’s poorest countries from energy poverty. MDBs and other public and private donors have played, and continue to play, key roles in advancing energy access—but the time to accelerate all efforts is now.

Please join the campaign and get behind the petition we will be sending to MDBs on May 23 urging them to help #endenergypovertyfaster

 

*Off-Grid Solar Market Trends Report 2016 (Bloomberg & Lighting Global, 2016): p78—Power for All based on anticipated 21 million unit sales in 2016