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Official inauguration of a solar station in Nicaragua with children

Not everyone has almost constant access to electricity in everyday life. Electricity straight from the plug is a given in Austria. However, 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity, while 3 billion lack access to clean and safe cooking stoves. The world's poorest countries rely on traditional biomass such as fuel wood, coal, dung and agricultural refuse for 90 percent of their cooking and heating needs – with far-reaching detrimental effects to their health and the ecology.

Austrian Development Cooperation has been committed to the promotion of better and more sustainable energy supply especially in sub-Saharan Africa, in Bhutan, and in Central America. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon's initiative "Sustainable Energy for All" has pushed the international debate about this burning issue since 2011: By 2030 all people are to have access to modern and clean energy. The world-wide share of improvements on energy efficiency and the share of renewable energies are to be doubled by that time.

Rising energy needs

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that worldwide energy needs will increase by one third by 2035. The bulk of the additional needs will come from emerging and developing countries. Quick solutions are clearly needed. Generating energy is also often the cause of environmental degradation. All countries still massively invest in fossil forms of energy. Climate change, which is primarily caused by the use of fossil energy, is already destroying development gains achieved so far.

Sustainable solutions

In order to cope with the complex challenges of the energy sector sustainable solutions are needed. A far-sighted energy policy must promote development while at the same time take into account criteria for environmental protection and social justice. Many developing countries have considerable renewable energy and energy efficiency potential. Due to technical, financial and institutional barriers this often remains unused.

Using local potential

Austrian Development Cooperation assists institutions in developing countries to use available opportunities of renewable energies. Creating access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy services is the primary goal.

Specific activities of Austrian Development Cooperation in the energy sector:

  • Construction and building up of a centre for renewable energy and energy efficiency for 15 West African countries
  • Solar-thermal demonstration facilities and know-how transfer in Southern Africa
  • Pilot facilities and feasibility studies on renewable energy in 8 Central American countries
  • Support of Austrian companies that invest in renewable energies in developing countries
  • Training and subsidies of institutions in Bhutan for the construction of 4 hydropower stations