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Wouldn't you want to mill your own flour?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Climate Change

So today it was my turn in the climate change hot seat here at the World Bank in Washington.

The highlight of my day was being able to approve an exciting new programme called Scaling-up Renewable Energy (SREP).

SREP will focus on scaling up the use of renewables in low income countries. Yesterday I mentioned the kind of programme that SREP might fund - perhaps providing a poor community a sub-Saharan African country with locally produced electricity which they might use to power a small mill, rather than transporting their wheat elsewhere to be processed and then bought back as flour.

The programme is exciting not only for the kind of impact it will have on the ground, but also because it will demonstrate how we can scale up finance to deliver on renewables and access to energy. These lessons could feed into the use of major sources of funding. Indeed, we discussed one of these today - the World Bank's International Development Association budget - which comes in at some $11 billion per year.

The programme isn't ready to be launched just yet. The next step is to pull in the finance from donor countries so that we can reach the minimum threshold of $250m to ensure we can have significant, scaled up impact in the countries that receive SREP funding. The UK has already announced its intention to provide £25m and we've been closely involved in the design of the programme. Now our job is to ensure others follow suit!

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  1. Comment by Anupama posted on

    Dear Vicky,

    Can you please provide me a detailed info (preferably document) on SREP. It sounds quite interesting to me and i hope you would have enough materials regarding SREP.

    Thanks in advance

  2. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on

    Dear Anupama

    Many thanks for your enquiry. The easiest way to find all the information you're looking for is to look at the World Bank's CIFs website, which includes a page on SREP.

    Here's the link:,,contentMDK:22106259~menuPK:5924881~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:407864,00.html

    Best wishes

  3. Comment by Cynan Houghton posted on

    Great stuff Vicki. Sounds like a really valuable programme. I wonder though if Operational Criteria (f) in the design document is going to be the most challenging -- critical mass -- eg around sufficient economic scale in a developing country supply chain to support the more technological inputs into a lot of renewables (solar, wind). You would need a lot of the micro scale mills you refer to, to make that happen.

    Anyway pls keep up blogging on this, its a tremendously fascinating intersection & opportunity I'm sure you agree, will follow with interest!

  4. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on

    Thanks, Cynan, for your comments.

    You make a valid point that critical mass will be a challenge. We see SREP as part of a much bigger programme to meet the challenges of climate change and energy demand in low income countries, with an emphasis on a ‘programmatic’ approach – i.e. large-scale support that builds on national energy development plans.

    Three key aspects of SREP reinforce this:

    - SREP provides some concessional capital to developing countries, but it also leverages other sources of funding from the multilateral development banks (such as the World Bank or the regional development banks) – so it’s not just the money pledged by donors. There is also the potential for linking up with bilateral donor programmes already operating in each SREP country.

    - Although SREP will provide capital funding, the programmatic approach means that we would expect governments to build on this through market-creation policies (such as fixed tariffs to provide an incentive to renewable energy developers) and regulatory reform.

    - We expect that much of the implementation of energy projects will be done by private sector developers in response to the incentives and capital that are provided. This will provide additional financial leverage, as a result of the investments made by developers.

    Best wishes

  5. Comment by Md Shamsuddoha posted on

    Two years back we ( along with Dr.Sam, lecturer Leeds University) implemented a study on the impact of renewable energy ( especially Solar) in the remote areas (coastal) areas in Bangladesh; we found that poor people are out of this support. Thus the impact of renweable energy on poverty is difficult to assess. How this proggramme could be pro-poor. You know majority people in the rural areas in Bangladesh live under poverty line.

  6. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on

    Dear Doha,

    Many thanks for your comments.

    SREP is not only about renewable energy, but also access to modern energy services for poor people in low income countries. The focus is on productive uses of energy (e.g. milling, manufacturing) as well as domestic customers and community services (health, education, communication), thus contributing to local economic development. SREP can offer direct benefits to women, by reducing local air pollution and reduced expenditure on kerosene or less time spent collecting firewood. Improved energy supplies can also help increase rural incomes and provide new jobs in sectors where women are traditionally employed, such as agro-processing. By 2015, we expect the programme will provide enough energy to support over 2.5 million households.

    You might be interested to know that the UK also provides core funding to the Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP), who work to reduce poverty by accelerating access to affordable and sustainable energy sources. Much of GVEP's efforts are aimed at mobilising the local private sector in the provision of energy services to the poor in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

    Best wishes

  7. Comment by Md Shamsuddoha posted on

    Dear Vicky,
    Thanks for your reply. I strongly support your statement; we have to ensure productive uses of energy for the development of productive sectors in local level. That is why first we need production as well as sustainable energy supply. Aside with renewable energy, you also mentioned about 'modern energy services'-are you talking about bio-fuels or other services. Should you please tell a bit more on 'modern energy services'...
    Thanks and regards

  8. Comment by Vicky Seymour posted on

    Dear Doha,

    By modern energy services we generally mean electricity, gas, and other energy sources for heating, cooking, lighting, transport, telecommunications, etc. These services are essential for socioeconomic development and often in the developed world, we take these for granted!

    Best wishes

  9. Comment by andy@greenenergyscene posted on

    It must be a very satisfying part of your job to approve schemes like these which will improve the lives of so many needy people. I hope that you can secure the funding levels that you require - im glad to see that my home country (UK) has already contributed. I can do nothing but echo the comments made here, schemes such as these are a vital aspect of ensuring a clean energy future for our planet.