Energy Aid A Big Undertaking For IBM

When IBM embarks on an aid initiative, it doesn’t mess around. The global computing giant is teaming with international development charity Practical Action to form Energy Aid, aimed at bringing sustainable power to millions around the globe who rely on dangerously primitive energy sources. The effort, launched out of IBM’s U.K. base, has the support of the United Nations, members of Parliament and Start, the Prince Charles to promote sustainable living.

How desperately is something like this needed? Get this: According to IBM, every year, 2.7 billion people “cook with biomass, wood, dung, coal and other solid fuels” – and in the process some 1.4 million of those people die from exposure to indoor smoke. That’s more people than die from Malaria, IBM said.

Energy Aid, IBM, sustainable power for cooking

image via Shutterstock

Work on Energy Aid began more than a year ago, at the IBM Start Summit in London, and IBM said a key component of the initiative is getting as many different organizations involved. “Providing universal energy access is one of the most important challenges of our time but no one organisation can do this alone and collaborative approaches are now needed,” Stephen Leonard, IBM chief executive for the U.K. and Ireland, and chair of the Energy Aid trustees, said in a statement.

Energy Aid listed three key strategies in its effort: undertaking a global awareness campaign; creating an open knowledge base, with data, resources, technologies and research widely accessible; and, of course, the all-important fund raising. “The Energy Aid fund will raise and invest money into deserving long-term game-changing projects,” IBM said. “Operating as a patient investor in high-risk environments, the fund will identify opportunities to create economically viable and sustainable markets, which in turn will attract private investment to achieve extensive scalability.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.