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Connecting world’s poor to clean energy could save US$27 billion and over 1 million lives

Date
25 September 2015
Connecting world’s poor to clean energy could save US$27 billion and over 1 million lives

NEW YORK: Over the past two years, 60,000 rural villagers in four states in India have been connected to affordable, solar powered energy by international non-profit The Climate Group, as part of an innovative program that could be extended to save as many as 1.5 million lives a year by cutting indoor air pollution from kerosene lamps.

On the eve of the UN’s Sustainable Development Summit in New York, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said of the Bijli – Clean Energy for All project: “I welcome efforts that bring governments, businesses and communities together to build a sustainable future. Ensuring access to affordable and clean energy is an essential part of the Sustainable Development Goals. It can improve health while fighting climate change -- and point the way towards lives of dignity for all."

The ‘Bijli’ (Hindi for electricity) initiative is supported by local entrepreneurs in the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh and was set up with funding from the Dutch Postcode Lottery. The Climate Group calculates that if the innovative business and finance model identified by the project was scaled up to cover all the 1.3 billion people in the world who currently have no access to electricity, the world’s poor would be US$27 billion better off.

According to the Global Off-grid Lighting Association‘s estimates, off-grid communities currently spend an estimated US$30 billion per year buying kerosene for lighting purposes. However, lighting bills from solar micro-grids, home lighting systems and hand-held lighting systems are known to be over 90% cheaper.

Traditional lighting methods are not only expensive but also dangerous: indoor air pollution from kerosene lamps and stoves kill 4.3 million people each year, of which kerosene lamps account for 1.5 million deaths. This is roughly the same as the number of AIDS-related deaths (1.6 million victims) and tuberculosis deaths (1.5 million), and over twice the number of deaths from malaria each year (627.000).

The Climate Group estimates that switching to efficient off-grid lighting in South Asia would hugely benefit the almost 500 million consumers in the region who are not connected to the grid, as well as deliver mayor environmental benefits. Replacing all the kerosene lamps, candles and battery-powered torches with solar LED lanterns would save US$5 to 8 billion in fuel costs and avoid 23.3 million tons of CO2 emissions each year- the equivalent of 4 million cars.

Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group said: “30% of India alone is still not connected to the grid. Off-grid energy finance models not only have the potential to connect millions of people in India, South Asia and other parts of the world to clean electricity, but also provide them with a platform for moving out of poverty while avoiding the carbon emissions associated with conventional development models.”

 As well as working with local Indian companies, The Climate Group project has the support of Indian state and national government bodies. Shri Upendra Tripathy, Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India, said: “We must look at the speed, scale and skill for the off-grid energy sector in India as we have even bigger climate and energy efficiency goals lying ahead of us. Off-grid solar solutions are a vital part of India’s energy mix as making solar affordable will impact the growth of renewable energy in India in the coming years.”

Bringing clean energy to rural villagers also means more income, more time for work and study, more safety for women, and healthier lives. It is going to be one of the biggest sources of rural green jobs. Even now, clean energy entrepreneurs earn about US$25 to US$75 per month for managing the solar micro grids, while the operators – at least 15% of which are women – earn about US$23 to US$53 per month by engaging in village based clean energy businesses. The monthly average income per person in rural India is US$16.

The report The business case for off-grid energy in India, published by The Climate Group in partnership with Goldman Sachs Center for Environmental Markets, concluded that the market size of the decentralized renewable energy sector will be US$150 million by 2018, and that the market size for solar home systems will grow 60% per year to reach a market size of US$200-250 million by 2018. With financing support, the estimate is that 7.2 million under-electrified households will be able to afford a solar home system by 2018. Debt financing has been found to be the primary unmet need in the off-grid sector.

To build on the learning and help fill this critical financing gap, The Climate Group is seeking to create a debt fund to enable flexible and catalytic financing for the distributed renewable energy sector in India that will bridge the gap to mainstream financial institutions.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery, the world’s third largest private donor to charity, is the principal funder of the Bijli project. Marieke van Schaik, managing director of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, said: “We admire the can-do approach of The Climate Group. We congratulate The Climate Group that they were able to connect over 60,000 rural villagers in India to clean, affordable energy, meanwhile convening businesses and governments in India and around the world to bring this project to even more people worldwide.”

Note to the editor

The Sustainable Development Goals directly connected to the Bijli project are number 7, Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all, and number 13, take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. It is widely recognized that access to reliable, clean energy is a pre-condition for sustainable development in both emerging and developed economies.

A six minute video on the project Bijli – Clean energy for all can be seen on the Bijli webpage.

 

- ENDS

Media contacts

 

Beth Woodthorpe-Evans
Media Relations Manager, The Climate Group
media@theclimategroup.org | +44 (0)7912514445

 

Jeroen Gerlag

Global Communications Coordinator, The Climate Group

jgerlag@theclimategroup.org | media@theclimategroup.org | +44 (0)7946575433

Havas Communications

HPR-CWNYCMedia@havashealth.com


About Climate Week NYC

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Climate Group is also hosting a Climate Week ‘countdown’ from September 1 until the opening of the week; during which a series of announcements, report launches and major commitments from business and sub-national leaders will be made.

Climate Week NYC 2015 is supported by BT Group, Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SkyPower, SolarCity, CBRE Group, and Bank of the West - BNP Parisbas; and the We Mean Business coalition members: BSR, The B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and WBCSD.

ClimateWeekNYC.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

 

About The Climate Group

The Climate Group is an award-winning, international non-profit. Our goal is a prosperous, low carbon future. We believe this will be achieved through a ‘clean revolution’: the rapid scale-up of low carbon energy and technology. We work with corporate and government partners to develop climate finance mechanisms, business models which promote innovation, and supportive policy frameworks. We convene leaders, share hard evidence of successful low carbon growth, and pilot practical solutions which can be replicated worldwide.

Since 2009, The Climate Group has been the convenor of Climate Week NYC. In September 2014, Climate Week NYC hosted 150 events as the collaborative space in support of the UN Climate Summit.

Theclimategroup.org | @ClimateGroup 



#CWNYC 2015

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Climate Week NYC 2015 is supported by BT Group, Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SkyPower, SolarCity, CBRE Group, and Bank of the West - BNP Paribas; and the We Mean Business coalition members: BSR, The B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and WBCSD.

ClimateWeekNYC.org | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

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