The World Bank Group has just agreed to stop funding coal projects. This is welcome news as the World Bank Group has funded almost $6 billion in coal projects over the past five years. World Bank President Dr. Kim should be praised for helping shepherd through a policy to reform the Bank energy lending that stalled under his predecessor.

To realize scale in low-income markets entrepreneurs consistently face the challenge of inadequate global business acumen or exposure, beyond a regional or sector focus area. As a result, it is frequently difficult for the enterprise, and hence the potentially high-impact innovation – to become commercialized and generate scale.

Although the White House says the aim is to power Africa with "cleaner energy" it would seem from the list of named projects that the focus is indeed natural gas, hydro and some wind. That's a good strategy if all you want to achieve is a reduction in coal-fired electricity.

To date, solar power plays only an auxiliary role in Africa's energy mix, but growth in solar use is emblematic of a regional shift toward renewables. In 2004, the African renewable energy sector was valued at $750 million. By 2011, it reached $3.6 billion.

How Prizes Can Help Us Achieve Energy Goals: What will it take to foster and spread the ideas and practices needed for sustainable development? One thing that has stirred innovative thinking are the positive results of recent prize competitions.

The way to a solution is not just more money, but putting the money in the right place. So far, the existing data do not indicate that funding levels and energy access needs are being logically or consistently deployed.

Coal and the centralized system it powers will not end energy poverty - only a decentralized clean energy 'grid' will get the job done. As other international public finance institutions (IFIs) step forward to end coal finance the real question is whether the World Bank will lead, follow, or get out of the way as this inevitable transition occurs.

Want to reduce solar PV costs from the start? Use less material and associated processes.

Energy poverty is not merely economic; it is expressed in deforestation, respiratory illness, and maternal and child mortality

It's interesting to note that the African Energy Atlas devotes a short but significant section to the renewables sector stating that “wind, solar and geothermal energy are losing their niche status”.


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