Rockefeller Foundation Forms Coalition to Electrify the World within the Decade

Jan. 17, 2021
The Rockefeller Foundation has formed a global coalition to bring sustainable power for one billion people who lack access to electricity within this decade. 

Noting that one in 10 people globally still lack access to electricity, The Rockefeller Foundation has formed a global coalition to bring sustainable power to one billion people within this decade. 

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The philanthropic organization was joined by the African Development Bank, CDC Group, the U.K.’s development finance institution, the European Investment Bank (EID), the International Energy Agency, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the U.S. International Development Finance Corp. and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

 “In this era of unprecedented crises — including the coronavirus pandemic — we have a responsibility and remarkable opportunity to harness the power that can lead to a more equitable, safer world,” said Rajiv Shah, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Our goal is ambitious yet achievable: to bring reliable and sustainable electricity, powered by renewable technologies, to a billion people by the decade’s end. Our success will empower millions of people to participate in a modern economy, growing economic opportunity for us all.”

The new coalition is focused on distributed renewable energy systems, including minigrids, grid-connected local generation and storage; renewable power solutions for industrial and commercial clusters; and stand-alone commercial appliances.

In addition to the 800,000 million who lack electricity, another 2.8 billion people grapple with such unreliable electricity that they cannot rely on it to help them earn a living or power hospitals and schools, according to the foundation. The problem is especially extreme in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Ambroise Fayolle, European Investment Bank vice president, said that the pandemic and climate change have worsened the problem.

 “Accelerating high-impact investments to improve access to clean energy is essential to address the climate crisis, fight poverty and improve public health. That’s why the European Investment Bank is very pleased to join forces with The Rockefeller Foundation and its “Green and Equitable Recovery Call to Action” as a platform to promote the energy transition across Africa, Asia and Latin America by unlocking public and private capital flows into distributed renewable energy systems.”

Fayolle said that the initiative is in line with the EIB’s Energy Lending Policy and Climate Bank Roadmap.

Others who signed the call to action include:

  • Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association
  • Global Association for the Off-Grid Solar Energy Industry (GOGLA)
  • Gridworks (development and investment platform backed by U.K.’s CDC Group)
  • International Solar Alliance
  • Power Africa (government-led partnership coordinated by USAID)
  • Power for All
  • Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
  • Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL)
  • U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) Presidency (U.K.)

The Rockefeller Foundation, SEforALL and RMI have launched a new website for the campaign.

About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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