Published on October 4th, 2010 | by Chris Milton


Top Four Ways Clean Energy Alleviates Poverty

October 4th, 2010 by  

Around 1.7 billion people live in poverty around the world.

That’s a quarter of the world’s population; more than the US and China combined and over three times the population of the EU.

Of that 1.7 billion, a full 700 million live in India; over 60% of the country’s population.  If want to alleviate poverty, India seems like a good place to start.

This is why a recent report by the World Resources Institute and the Institute for Financial Management and Research is of great importance.  It’s looked at India’s poverty stricken population and identifies four key clean energy strategies which should go a long way to alleviating poverty and suffering in the country.

However, if left in the hands of “traditional” businesses this bottom of the pyramid (BoP) selling will do little more than reinforce the destitution within which these people live.  So these strategies must be backed up with sustainable business practices which will seek to bring advantage to these communities and genuinely increase well being, not just strip mine wealth to the top of the pyramid.

Picture Credit: Sunset by BalijiB under Creative Commons Attribution License, trimmed by Chris Milton.

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.

  • Joe

    Your reporting leaves a lot to be desired, and this post is a good example.

    “This is why a recent report . . . identifies four key clean energy strategies which should go a long way to alleviating poverty and suffering in the country.”

    Wouldn’t you have thought to let us know what those strategies are?

    Hang on a minute; I’ll have a look.

    The things the study recommended were small decentralized renewable electricity, home-scale solar electricity, solar-powered lanterns and energy-efficient cooking stoves.

    There! See how easy that is?

    • Each of these is dealt with in depth on subsequent pages which you can navigate to using the buttons below the social bookmarking icons. I agree this is not wholly clear and will raise it with the site designers in the future.

  • Hi Dave,

    Thank you very much for your comment. You are dead right. These initiatives will only be of use if they bring real and direct benefit to the local communities within which they are deployed. The key aspect appear to be the localised yet communal based power generation: this would help to draw people into creating and providing sustainable energy for their communities. After that, the rest would appear to flow naturally.

    However, I think, there is no use in the schemes if they’re simply going to create a new revenue stream for existing top of the pyramid multinationals.

    Is this what you mean .. what do other people think?


  • I would be interested in the revenue figures in this report eg the 80 US cents a household a year for an efficient stove? or the 35 US cents a household a year for a solar lantern. Are these the amounts that flow to local poor business people and how do they alleviate the poverty of the poor users? Where does the money to buy the lantern come from?

  • the cleanerst energy and average is the light into our soul

  • One thing you left out was the use of renewables to purify water. Access to clean water is a problem today for over 1 billion people around the world. Given the world population growth coupled with diminishing oil stocks requires the ability to convert seawater to fresh. The only sustainable way to do that is the use of solar power.

    • That’s a very good point Ron: water is *the* fundamental requirement for life and dignity, yet there is no mention in the report of it (other than for use in hydro projects).

      I wonder if I should let my cynicism have free rein and suggest that providing water isn’t a viable business proposition because many see its provision as something which should be free at the point of use?

Back to Top ↑