ADB's Energy for All Initiative
If you’re reading this on a computer, then your access to electricity and all its benefits – including the internet – is more or less assured. But for 700 million people in Asia, the benefits of modern electricity are out of reach. And for 1.9 billion people in Asia, cooking is still done over an open flame, which fills home with smoke and gives rise to many respiratory problems, especially among children.
Access to energy has been called the missing Millennium Development Goal. Modern energy makes human development possible, saving time and effort by making work more efficient, and enabling services that are as complex as refrigerating important vaccines to as simple as replacing the kerosene lamp of a child studying for school with a safer, electric bulb.
The needs of these millions of people can also be addressed without greatly increasing greenhouse gas emissions. In the case of open fires, replacing them with cleaner burning options would actually decrease the amount of black carbon in the atmosphere. Increased energy access can be a win-win solution for both people and the environment. Renewable energy systems can meet power needs, and
Access to energy can come in many different forms:
- One of the most popular recent stories about access to energy involved the ingenious use of water bottles to bring natural lighting into dark homes in the Philippines: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14967535
- Access to energy also includes government efforts to extend national power grids to remote communities, such as those in the uplands of Bhutan, who are receiving a stable connection to affordable electricity for the first time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-UzZabnLOI
- Finding better, cleaner ways to cook is a major access to energy issue and a health issue as well. Respiratory problems from indoor smoke inhalation lead to many deaths every year. This issue has received high profile attention and support: http://www.cookingshouldntkill.org/learn/julia-roberts
- Increasing access to energy also includes access to better fuels. Biogas technology helps rural farmers turn animal waste into cooking fuel, leading to lower use of kerosene and coal.
For more information:
- What is energy poverty?
- ADB’s Energy for All
- ADB’s publication “Powering the Poor: Projects to increase access to clean energy for all”
- The Energy for All Partnership
- The Global Campaign for Sustainable Energy for All