Sustainable Energy For All

on October 11, 2011 at 6:00 AM

In some parts of the world, refrigeration is a luxury and children do their homework by candle light.

That reality is unacceptable, the International Energy Agency said in its recent “Energy for All: Financing Access For The Poor” report published on Monday. With increased investment over the next five years, the report claims the world’s energy needs can be fully met by 2030.

“Eradicating energy poverty is a moral imperative, and this report shows that it is achievable. Now it is just a question of mustering the political will,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

The document is a “special early excerpt” of the full IEA International Energy Outlook 2011 and was presented at the Energy For All Conference in Oslo, Norway that is running from October 9 – 11. The outlook predicted that energy consumption would rise dramatically over the new few years with the bulk of the demand coming from developing economies in China and India.

“Modern energy services are crucial to human well‐being and to a country’s economic development; and yet globally over 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and 2.7 billion people are without clean cooking facilities. More than 95% of these people are either in sub‐Saharan Africa or developing Asia and 84% are in rural areas,” the report says.

Though billions of dollars have been invested globally over the last few years in international infrastructure, the IEA report says investment at the same rate over the coming decades (an estimated $14 billion annually from 2010 to 2030) will still leave approximately $1 billion in the dark. For adequate global infrastructure, investment needs to be closer to $48 billion annually and that money mostly needs to be directed to sub‐Saharan Africa, the report says.

The report recommends that the bulk of the financing come from the private sector, though it suggests that governments need to build stable and strong regulatory frameworks to encourage that kind of investment.

“When used, public subsidies must be well targeted to reach the poorest,” the report says.

Though it could be argued that increased development would have adverse environmental impacts, the report says that global electricity access would increase carbon dioxide emissions by only 0.7%.

Download the complete 52-page report, here.

Photo Caption: A general street view of the Senaglese city of Saint-Louis is seen on January 27, 2009. 350 years old and largely un-touched, Saint-Louis was the first city founded by French settlers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and since 2000 has been classified a World-Wide Heritage of Humainty site — though the UNESCO committee are to downgrade its status to that of Heritage in Peril, for lack of a city museum.