How to Tackle Energy Poverty
Energy access is critical for quality of life improvements and economic development. But according to the International Energy Agency, 1.3 billion people still lack access to electricity and 2.6 billion lack access to clean and safe cooking facilities. Most of these people living in energy poverty are in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia.
But this is not an insurmountable problem . . . In fact, there is a lot of momentum building in the fight against global energy poverty . . .
The UN recently crystallized its sustainable development goals for 2030, with “access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy for all” selected as goal number seven — also, ending extreme poverty was goal number one and taking urgent action on climate change was number 13. In other news, an Oxfam report showed how renewable energy could help beat poverty and pollution in India; the World Bank flat out rejected the idea of tackling energy poverty with coal power; and billionaire Richard Branson ruminated on the importance of ending energy poverty once and for all through sustainable energy projects.
The accepted notion has long been that people need access to cheap energy sources for prosperity. The traditional solution for many developing countries has been to build coal power plants because they are the cheapest way to make electricity. But governments are now realizing that the environmental and health externalities associated with coal outweigh the benefits of inexpensive power. There are too many hidden costs associated with coal power generation, including premature deaths and illness from breathing in harmful emissions, and climate-forcing greenhouse gas emissions.
Tackling energy poverty is not going to be an easy task: real progress must not just increase access to energy, but also improve health outcomes. People need access to sustainable energy sources. 501Carbon, in partnership with EnMassEnergy, is tackling energy poverty by developing biomass power projects in East Africa and South Asia that turn agricultural waste into electricity and sustainable fertilizer. By using agricultural waste responsibly and productively, we can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase access to power, all while providing opportunities for economic development.
There are so many ways that clean electricity can benefit a community, particularly in rural areas without access to energy infrastructure. One of the biggest ways is in improving the quality of education. Most children in sub-Saharan Africa go to primary schools that lack access to electricity. In some countries, almost no schools have electricity. Moreover, children need light to study at home — and the safest and most effective way to provide light is through renewable power generation and energy efficient lamps. Kerosene lamps, on the other hand, are expensive to fuel and can cause long term respiratory issues.
Want to learn more about 501Carbon’s energy poverty reduction initiatives? Contact us or our partners, EnMassEnergy, to learn more. We are also actively seeking project development partners in Eastern Africa and South Asia — please reach out if you are interested in working with us.