The World Bank’s funding for renewable and efficient energy projects in developing countries rose 87 per cent during the past year to nearly $2.7 billion, reflecting the growing interest and demand for environmentally-friendly sources of power.
“Concerns about energy security, climate change, and increasing energy prices make many renewable energy and energy efficiency measures and applications very attractive in a number of different settings,” said Jamal Saghir, World Bank Director for Energy, Transport, and Water.
“This is reflected in the increased demand for investment and also for technical assistance to strengthen regulatory frameworks providing incentives to climate change-friendly applications,” he added, according to a news release issued yesterday by the Bank, which is based in Washington, DC.
At the 2004 International Renewable Energies Conference in Bonn, Germany, the World Bank Group pledged to boost its financial support for new renewable energy and energy efficiency projects by 20 per cent per year.
Since then it has more than exceeded that goal each year, committing close to $3.7 billion to such projects, compared with the agreed commitment goal of $1.3 billion.
The Bank’s commitments during the past fiscal year – which ended in June – include nearly $1.2 billion for energy efficiency, as well as almost $1.5 billion for renewable energy including wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydropower projects.
Renewable energy and energy efficient investments made up 35 per cent of the Bank’s energy commitments for the year – up from 13 per cent per year on average in the early 1990s – with 95 projects in 51 countries, as well as two cross-border projects.
The Bank noted that high energy prices and acute power shortages have led to an increased demand for energy efficiency projects, including automated meter reading systems and efficient lighting measures. Such projects are being implemented in a number of countries such as China, Pakistan, Argentina, Ukraine, Burundi and Zambia.
Increased investments in renewable and efficient energy projects will not only benefit the environment but also contribute to job creation, according to a landmark study released last week by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The report found, among other things, that renewable energy generates more jobs than employment in fossil fuels. Projected investments of $630 billion by 2030 would translate into at least 20 million additional jobs in the renewable energy sector.
In recent years some 2.3 million people have found new jobs in the renewable energy sector alone, and the potential for job growth in the sector is huge, added the report, which stated that employment in alternative energies may rise to 2.1 million in wind and 6.3 million in solar power by 2030.
In addition, investments in improved energy efficiency in buildings could generate an additional 2 million to 3.5 million green jobs in Europe and the United States alone, with the potential much higher in developing countries.