The recent 6thAsia Clean Energy Forum, held by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, recently played host to a discussion by business leaders (from Philips, Schneider Electric, and Siemens) on how businesses can enable access to clean, reliable and affordable energy.
The session, moderated by the WBCSD’s Development Focus Area programme manager Matthew Lynche, examined the role large companies play in expanding energy access to the poor—the primary focus of the WBCSD’s new Access to Energy Initiative. Lynche also drew attention to the role and value proposition of the Energy for All (E4All) Partnership, which aims to provide access for 100 million new users in the Asia-Pacific region by 2015 and requires the engagement and active participation of the private sector.
According to the WBCSD, addressing the lack of access to clean and affordable energy to billions of people is one of the world’s most critical challenges. Lack of access to energy is a major barrier to economic and social development and must be overcome if the Millennium Development Goals are to be achieved.
Global Technology Leader (Decentralized Renewable Energy Technologies) at Siemens AG India, Dr. Peeush Kumar Bishnoi, said solutions that are sustainable and market-driven rather than policy-driven will be crucial to overcoming access challenges. Siemens’ focus on building a sustainable portfolio lies in looking at consumers’ needs and their ability to pay, revenue models and technology options.
Philippe Reveilhac, president of Schneider Electric in the Philippines, highlighted the company’s Business, Innovation & People at the Base of the Pyramid program (BipBop), which addresses three key issues to provide sustainable access to electricity: the lack of appropriate equipment through the development of an adequate offer; the lack of financial resources available for innovative energy entrepreneurs through funding; and the skills and expertise shortage through technical and business training.
Meanwhile Philips Lighting’s Harry Verhaar, who carries the rather long-winded title of senior director energy & climate change, as well as head of strategic sustainability initiatives, argued that there are four key areas where business has a role to play in enabling access to sustainable lighting solutions: technology applications, policy development, financing, and communications, emphasizing that access to energy is not only about solving a problem, but also about prosperity development.
This year’s forum was attended by more than 550 participants from more than 50 countries, representing business, governments, financial institutions, international organizations, civil society, and academia.