Sustainable energy for all gets boost with $1 billion Rockefeller Foundation commitment


The Rockefeller Foundation aims to catalyse a ‘green recovery’ with support for sustainable energy in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The funding committed in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and to be provided over the next three years will focus on two key areas.

One is to catalyse billions of dollars in private and concessional investments to scale distributed renewable energy across developing countries. The second is to support measures to fight the pandemic and prevent future outbreaks.

In addition to this one-time commitment of additional resources, The Foundation says its efforts and energies will be rededicated and reoriented toward improving the lives of the world’s poorest people and addressing inequities made worse by this virus.

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“There’s no going back to the past, to before-Covid. We need to reimagine the future we want,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation in a statement. “To meet this moment, we must leverage all our resources and relationships to build an equitable, sustainable future, where everyone has the opportunity to realise their full potential and climate disaster is avoided.”

Almost 800 million people in the world have no access to electricity today and approximately three times that number have insufficient access and rely on dirty cooking fuels, according to the Sustainable Energy for All organisation.

Moreover, more than 100 million people are believed to have seen their electricity access severed due to being unable to pay bills during the pandemic. Data from the World Bank suggest the combined impact of climate change and the damage done by Covid-19 will push 132 million people into poverty.

According to the Rockefeller statement, as a result of the breakthroughs in distributed renewable energies, scaling these technologies to provide green energy to half a billion people over the next decade is feasible and would save 1.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions compared to conventional grid-based electrification.

The statement also notes the Foundation’s Smart Power Initiative and its partnership with Tata Power, TP Renewable Microgrid. The partnership is expected to invest $1 billion by 2026 in India deploying up to 10,000 mini-grids providing clean energy to 5 million households, supporting 100,000 rural enterprises and delivering irrigation to 400,000 farmers – in total, providing power to more than 25 million people.

The Foundation anticipates financing this commitment by leveraging both its endowment and the proceeds from its bond offering for charitable purposes.