Across Asia, development is happening at breakneck speed. Yet over a billion people still have no access to electricity. Most of them are the rural poor, who live far from the mains electricity grid. Lack of power places tight limits on education and on livelihoods. Off-grid solutions are an ideal way to bring electricity to the Asia’s poorest communities. But making it happen needs the collaboration of many partners. The Asia Sustainable and Alternative Energy Programme, or ASTAE, was set up by the World Bank in 1992 to promote alternative energy schemes. A Switch in Time profiles five of these projects that show how renewable energy can beat poverty: the adoption of good quality solar home systems in China; tax breaks for foreign firms looking to establish fields of wind turbines in India; a system to empower women at the same time as providing much-needed electricity in Bangladesh; the development of biomass power generation in India; and solar and micro-hydro systems in Sri Lanka.
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