Millions to be without electricity by 2030, report warns

Double the population of the USA and the UK will be without electricity by 2030 unless governments invest more in renewable energy, a new report is warning.

'Faster progress is needed,' the report by Christian charity Tearfund stresses, as it calls for three-quarters of energy access investment for the poorest to be made in off-grid renewable sources.

'Under a business as usual scenario, almost 700 million people will still be without access to electricity in 2030, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. That is equivalent to double the population of the UK and USA combined,' the report said.Tearfund

Published ahead of the World Bank's spring meeting, the report calls on the body to redirect its spending away from fossil fuels. Based on research by the Overseas Development Institute, it points to examples in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nepal, Nigeria, Myanmar and Tanzania, where off-grid renewables are being used to bring energy to people in remote areas, who would have otherwise waited years for access to the grid.

Health and education would also benefit from renewable energy, the report claims, and cites a case study in Tanzania where, after providing solar electricity, primary and secondary school completion rates increased from less than 50 per cent to nearly 100 per cent with access to modern lighting increasing a child's study time in the evening.

Tearfund's Head of Advocacy Paul Cook said: 'People need electricity to get out of poverty. Solar energy gives people new options and improves their health. We need to change the current path and see a shift from fossil fuels to ensure that everyone living beyond the grid has power.

'For vulnerable remote communities to have clean, affordable and safe electricity, we need to see governments and the World Bank scale up spending on energy access, with three-quarters going to off-grid renewables like solar.'