Renewable energy is amazing! Off-grid sources of power such as solar and small-scale hydropower often provide people with electricity for the first time. They can improve health, air quality, women’s empowerment, safety and education, as well as creating opportunities for new sources of income, savings and setting up small enterprises.
Not only that but solar and micro-hydropower are often cheaper, faster, more reliable, safer and cleaner than extending a centralised grid, or using dangerous fuels such as diesel and kerosene. In rural areas of Myanmar, for example, the cost of connecting to the central grid in the future is expected to be more than double the cost of connecting to solar mini-grid pilot projects.
In addition, people can set up solar lamps and solar home systems in a matter of days, rather than waiting years - or even decades - for the grid to reach them.
But don’t just take our word for it. Grace Khatib, a 66-year-old entrepreneur in the Dodoma region of Tanzania, says this about her solar power:
“Before I bought a solar panel I used to use a kerosene lamp. I used to have a lot of health problems, the smoke affected my chest and I felt chest pains. My eyes didn’t work properly, even the atmosphere was not good. Now I feel that my life has changed because I have solar.”
Now, not only can she charge her own phone, but she can also make money from charging other people’s phones — using free power from her solar panel. “I run small businesses to earn an income. I recharge people’s mobile phones, I cultivate different crops, and I hire out rooms.”
We are in a race against time to ensure that everyone has access to energy to help them get out of poverty. Business as usual isn’t going to be enough to meet the Global Goal of affordable and clean energy for all by 2030.
The World Bank has a goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to achieve this, people need access to electricity. The World Bank has the resources to invest in modern clean energy on a massive scale and see nations powered by solar. Yet only a very small amount of the World Bank's energy funding currently goes on off-grid renewable energy that best helps people in poverty, while billions are spent on polluting fossil fuels.
This is why we are asking the World Bank to help speed up progress. As a huge investor in energy overseas they are placed ideally to help out. African and Asian countries have a huge opportunity to become world leaders in renewable energy, and the World Bank has a key role to play in facilitating this through its investments in sustainable and affordable energy to power economic development.
Right now the World Bank is holding their spring meetings. We would love you to join us in asking them to bring light to the darkness – quite literally.
PETITION THE WORLD BANK
Read more about how renewable energy is powering up nations around the world in our new Pioneering Power report at www.tearfund.org/climate_energy.