20% of the world’s population lives without access to electricity and nearly 40% depend on wood and other biomass for household fuel. Energy is essential for growing an economy and reducing poverty. The recent global initiative, Sustainable Energy for All, recognizes the importance of providing energy in developing countries. Energy is needed for business development, job creation, and income generation.
Over the last decade, the World Bank has committed more than $3 billion to Europe and Central Asia (ECA) to countries who face a potential energy crisis. This region is one of the most energy intensive regions in the world. Poorly constructed buildings throughout that provide low heating which increases energy consumption. The region accounts for 12% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is twice the amount is should contribute given its output.
The World Bank has already helped countries such as Belarus reduce its energy intensity by 60% and has saved Uzbekistan 50,000 MWhs of energy that would have otherwise been lost to inefficiency. The energy efficiency projects in the region over the past ten years have already saved an amount equal to the power generated in New Zealand in 2010.
Going forward countries will need to invest about $3.3 trillion over the next 20 years. While it may seem like a large amount, these energy efficiency projects pay off in the end. Cutting energy subsidies, protecting the poor and investing in energy efficiency could mean that nearly half the countries in ECA would gain more than 1 percent of its GDP back.
Over the next 20 years the World Bank along with ECA will focus on adopting more efficient technologies, increasing the energy efficiency of existing infrastructure, moderating demand for energy, and making cities more energy efficient. These initiatives will help the region by increasing their energy security, enhancing economic growth, and reducing the environmental and social impacts of the energy sector.
– Catherine Ulrich