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Access to electric energy is an ?indispensable element of sustainable human development,? according to the International Energy Agency. Without access to modern, commercial energy, poor countries can be trapped in a vicious circle of poverty, social instability, and underdevelopment. About 1.6 billion people?more than 20% of the world?s population?have no access to electricity. Moreover, about 2.4 billion people use traditional biomass for cooking and heating. Developing regions account for 99% of those who live without electricity, and four out of five live in rural areas of South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.