REN 21 Report on Renewable Energy for Poverty Alleviation

New York—The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN 21) today released its report, "Energy for Development: The Potential Role of Renewable Energy in Meeting the Millennium Development Goals," (download the report in PDF format) in conjunction with the 2005 World Summit at the United Nations. The report, produced and published by the Worldwatch Institute, brings together the expertise of the participants of REN 21, which provides a forum for international leadership on renewable energy and connects the wide variety of stakeholders that came together at the Bonn International Conference for Renewable Energies in 2004.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), joined the Worldwatch Institute in UNEP’s Green Room to discuss the report’s findings with attendants of the UN Summit. "Delivering clean, efficient, reliable and renewable energy to developing countries is absolutely critical for poverty reduction and for meeting the internationally agreed development goals," he said. "Every time oil surges over $50 a barrel, the overseas aid of many African countries—money intended for health care, schools and other vital services—is gobbled up in paying the extra fuel costs. It is also vital because, over the next few decades, the world is likely to invest some 16 trillion dollars in new energy infrastructure. We need to ensure that this is low carbon technology that gives us a better chance to fight climate change," said Dr. Toepfer.

The report identifies renewable energy options that are currently in wide use in some regions and that are now ready for large-scale introduction in many areas of the developing world. Through 26 case studies, the report cites biogas, small hydro, solar, wind, ethanol, and biodiesel, among other technologies, as viable options for poverty alleviation in developing countries.

As their cost has declined and their reliability has improved, renewable energy technologies have often emerged as more affordable and practical means of providing essential energy services. Although the strongest renewable energy growth has been in grid-connected power systems and liquid fuels for transportation, several technologies are well-suited to providing modern energy services for low-income people. Scaling up a broad portfolio of renewable energy options can make a major contribution to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, concludes the report.

The creation of REN 21 was sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. Formally established in Copenhagen in June 2005, REN 21 is now supported by a steering committee of 11 governments, five intergovernmental organizations, five non-governmental organizations, and several regional, local and private organizations.

Note to Editors:

About REN 21: REN21 is a global policy network aimed at providing a forum for international leadership on renewable energy. Its goal is to allow the rapid expansion of renewable energies in developing and industrial countries by bolstering policy development and decision-making on sub-national, national and international levels. For more information, visit

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