September 2016: Renewable Energy

In this - the first of a series of Cowater white papers on topical issues in development we look at the critical link between energy access for the poorest and most vulnerable, and sustainable economic growth.

Three points are critical to establishing this link

  1. Renewable energy (and specifically solar) allows power to reach poor communities directly, with significant localized jobs and enduring economic activity, especially for women and the most vulnerable.
  2. Access to energy is a key determinant and is highly correlated to sustainable economic growth across countries.
  3. Development project interventions can address key obstacles and barriers to renewable energy adoption in developing countries, and will pave the way for subsequent private sector activity in the region and bolstering sustainable economic growth.

The world is catching on to renewable energy's promise as a tool for rapid economic development. Solar power, for example, allows some of the world's poorest communities to leapfrog old models of electrification by building power generation close to communities where the power is used, without all the costly transmission and grid infrastructure to reach communities directly. Perhaps most importantly, deploying renewable energy (RE).

How does Renewable Energy benefit the poorest and most vulnerable?

Extensive independent research has validated the direct link between electricity access and human development. Broadly, power consumption correlates strongly with the Human Development Index (HDI): those countries at the bottom of the HDI Index including Chad, Mali and Niger, also have among the lowest kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption per capita in the world. Moreover, access to affordable electricity (enabled by renewable power on a distributed basis) is key to women's economic empowerment. Large scale case studies in developing countries find high correlation between energy access and higher incomes for women (as well as men), and that access to affordable electricity can enable significant gains in education, participation in the workforce, and starting businesses.

Continue reading this article on CowaterSogema's website