Washington D.C., Thursday, September 19,
2019— Fossil fuel burning back-up generators in developing countries
produce as much power as 700-1,000 coal-fired power stations, consume up
to $50 billion in fuel costs annually, and emit dangerous chemicals into
homes and businesses, according to a report released Wednesday by IFC,
a member of the World Bank Group.
Researched in partnership with the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt
State University and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis
(IIASA) with support from the IKEA Foundation, the report, The
Dirty Footprint of the Broken Grid,
documents for the first time the economic, environmental, and health effects
of fossil fuel generators, and calls for the rapid adoption of clean alternatives.
Key findings include:
· In developing countries, generators serve
20-30 million unique sites, with the potential to produce the energy equivalent
of 700-1,000 coal fired power stations. In some countries, back-up generators
provide more electrical capacity than the national power grid itself.
· Annual spending on generator fuel reaches
up to $50 billion—nearly twice the average hourly cost of grid-produced
electricity. In much of sub-Saharan Africa, there is more annual spending
on generator fuel than on the maintenance and management of the national
· Generators are a significant source of dangerous
pollution, including sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.
While these chemicals are also released by cars, trucks, and motorcycles,
generators are usually operated extremely close to homes, businesses, and
in crowded commercial districts. The potential health impact of these “tailpipe”
emissions is broad — from serious respiratory illnesses to cancer.
· Back-up generators emit more than 100 megatons
of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, the
CO2 emitted by generators is equal to nearly 20 percent of vehicle emissions
— the equivalent of 22 million more passenger vehicles on the road.
The study notes that modern and cost-effective solar technology may offer
developing countries a commercially viable path out of generator dependency.
“The private sector has an opportunity to establish a new market for modern
energy access—and vastly improve economic conditions in parts of the world
that still rely on inefficient electrical grids,” said Philippe Le Houérou,
CEO of IFC. “Adopting new solar and storage solutions will require innovative
programs and catalytic finance.”
The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian Ministry of Environment,
Land and Sea, and the IKEA Foundation are working alongside IFC to advance
solar energy services in emerging markets.
Head of the Renewable Energy Portfolio for the IKEA Foundation, Jeffrey
Prins, said: “Those living in poverty are often solving their energy needs,
but at a high price. Their energy options are often expensive, noisy and
polluting, such as the diesel gen-set. Through research and by championing
renewable energy alternatives, IFC is enabling this change – a change
that ensures that more and more families in the world’s poorest communities
can power their homes and livelihoods with renewable energy in an affordable
way. That is why we are supporting IFC with a €4.3 million grant for enabling
a new renewables environment.”
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank
Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private
sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities
where they are needed most. In fiscal year 2019, we delivered more than
$19 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging
the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared
prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.