18 January 2012 - The Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), the only trade association in the world representing the off-grid renewables industry operating in developing countries, welcomes the United Nations' International Year of Sustainable Energy for All as an initiative that will increase awareness around energy access and provide a strong incentive for new investments in the area.

As Ernesto Macias, President of ARE explained, any initiative that supports environmentally and economically sustainable solutions to the energy poverty issue should be supported.

“This initiative is a clear sign from decision-makers that energy access is set to become a priority on the global political agenda.” said Ernesto Macias. “For ARE’s members it is also an opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of off-grid renewables to supply electricity to rural areas of developing countries, where 80% of the world’s 1.4 billion people without access to electricity currently live. A lot of policy work and support remain to be done but this initiative is an important step in the right direction.”

ARE also welcomes the acknowledgement by the UN’s Secretary-General of the essential role the private sector can play in developing and marketing sustainable energy products, for instance through public private partnerships.

“Sustainable energy for all will only be possible through business-driven solutions for technologies such as small PV, small wind and small hydro, ideal in areas where grid extension is often too expensive.” said Ernesto Macias, “These areas represent a whole market yet to be fully tapped by the private sector. But there are already some early birds, as demonstrated by Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s recent study which concluded that the fastest investment growth in renewable energies will be seen in the rapidly developing economies of India, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, with projected growth rates of 10-18% per year over the period 2010 to 2020.”