Energy & Development

Despite the potential for renewable energy - especially bioenergy - many countries in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia have seen very little development and investment in this area. WWF is working to change this.

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Cooking with a biogas stove, instead of burning firewood, eases the workload of women and saves forests.
© Simon de Trey White / WWF-UK

The future is Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy has the potential to become a major source for future electricity and heat production.

By utilizing modern and efficient technologies, it offers a source of clean energy that can gradually replace coal and other fossil fuels, bringing environmental benefits and supporting rural development.

Such technologies include cooking stoves that run on solar devices and sustainably-sourced wood and biofuels.

Solar photovoltaic panels, small wind turbines, pico-hydro, biofuel engines can all provide electricity for lighting as well as for phones, cooking, water pumping, and heating and cooling.

Other options include solar flash lights, solar drying and solar water purification.

What WWF is doing

WWF is engaged in the promotion of rural renewable energy access through our policy work and many field projects throughout the world. We support:

  • Renewable energy projects that improve livelihoods and reduce deforestation, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions
  • Renewably-sourced energy for many of our field offices
  • The Gold Standard Foundation, an organization that certifies sustainable energy projects in the global carbon market and promotes sustainable energy in developing countries
Our challenge is to make these solutions available and affordable to developing countries.

Rural renewable energy use

There are 220 million improved biomass stoves in use around the world. This number compares with the roughly 570 million households that depend on traditional biomass as their primary cooking fuel.

Africa now has over 8 million of these stoves.

About 25 million households worldwide receive energy for lighting and cooking from biogas produced in household-scale plants (anaerobic digesters). This includes 20 million households in China, 3.9 million in India, and 150,000 in Nepal.

In India, over 4,000 villages and 1,100 hamlets have been electrified with renewables through India’s Remote Village Electrification Programme. Rural applications of solar PV in India increased to more than 435,000 home lighting systems, 700,000 solar lanterns, and 7,000 solar-power water pumps.

There are 637,000 solar cookers in use and 160 MW of small-scale biomass gasification systems for off-grid power generation.

The World Bank’s China Renewable Energy Development project was completed in mid-2008 with solar PV systems for more than 400,000 households in the country's northwestern provinces.
 / ©: Trishna Gurung / WWF Nepal
Jari Maya Tamang, one of the first to install a biogas system in her village. Badreni, Nepal.
© Trishna Gurung / WWF Nepal

Facts & Figures

    • Bioenergy accounts for more than 10% of the energy consumed worldwide.
    • Nearly 2/3 of this is estimated to come from wood fuel, accounting for more than 1/2 of the global wood consumption.
    • In sub-Saharan Africa, wood or crop residues count for 94% of the primary source of energy for rural households and 4% for urban households.
    • In 2000, households in sub-Saharan Africa consumed nearly 470 million tons of wood fuels (0.72 tons per capita) in the form of wood and charcoal.
    • In comparison, India and China together consumed 340 million tons.

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