Asian Development Bank

Energy access and fuel poverty

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Paris AlignmentReasoning
Some progressThe ADB Energy Policy prioritises modern energy access and sets a specific target, but implementation and progress updates are lacking.
 Alignment and Reasoning
Energy Access TargetADB-led Energy for All Partnership aims to double energy access impact to 200 million people by 2020, an updated goal has not been announced to our knowledge.
Minimum Definition of AccessUses the Sustainable Energy Access Planning (SEAP) framework for assessing energy poverty, it assesses the ‘number of households whose energy consumption is below the minimum acceptable level of basic energy services.
% of Energy Financing Dedicated to Energy Access22% of total energy financing in 2017, down from 26% in 2014.
Is Progress MonitoredDevelopment Effectiveness Review measures new household connections to electricity but not for new cooking fuels. An independent evaluation of the Bank’s energy sector work including energy access from 2009-2019 has been conducted and published in August 2019. Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department (SDCC) tracks energy access investment internally, breaking down by category of access such as cooking and rural electrification.
Progress Against MetricsFrom 2008 to 2018, new or improved electricity was delivered to over 22 million households and investments in clean cooking and heating benefited around 2.5 million households.


The Asia-Pacific Hub of Sustainable Energy for All’s global initiative was established in 2014 by the Asian Development Bank in partnership with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and UNDP. The Hub works with member nations to develop country action plans on energy access, and additionally hosts the Asia Pacific Energy Portal, a knowledge and analysis database, and the Sustainable Energy Centre of Excellence (SECOE), a multifunctional platform that serves to train, share, connect and develop knowledge within the energy sector throughout the region (although it is not clear if this has a specific focus on energy access).

The ADB’s specific energy access target is supported in the Bank’s 2009 Energy Policy, where access to modern energy is one of the policy’s three central pillars. In addition to the minimum definition of access, contributions to energy access can include considerations of modern fuel in heating or cooking, improvement of current services and provision of motive power, the energy which powers machinery; however, an independent evaluation of the Bank’s energy sector contributions at large stated that such factors were often not considered enough and despite achievements the Bank “paid limited attention to providing modern energy access to remote communities and the poorest populations”.  

The Bank’s approach to modern energy access includes a mix of large energy investment projects to modernise energy systems and increase security as well as more focused energy projects in remote communities that otherwise would not have modern energy access. The Bank helped to bring new and improved connections to over 2.4 million households from 2009 to 2018. The Bank’s 2019 Renewable Energy Status Report discusses energy access progress in the region as well as detailing multiple ongoing and completed projects in the region that progress this pillar of the Bank’s energy approach.

Up to date information on energy access progress is not easily available. A 2016 report by Sierra Club and Oil Change on assessing the MDB’s on their financing towards energy access between 2012-2014, gave every MDB an ‘F’ rating for their progress on helping to achieve universal energy access. Further reporting by Oil Change and The Big Shift assessing MDB action from 2014-2017 finds that the Bank, amongst others, is still not on track to meet its energy access commitments. Only 22% of the Bank’s 18.9 billion USD in energy finance went to energy access, and of this very little was spent on off-grid and distributed systems or cooking and heating access.

Recommendation: ADB should make available progress on above data since 2017 due to the absence of a progress report, and all MDBs should consider commissioning a joint report on their progress on energy access across Sustainable Energy for All’s established metrics.

Last Update: November 2020

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