The Energy Access Outlook: from Poverty to Prosperity, part of the World Energy Outlook - 2017 series, was published by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in October 2017.
The analysis finds that the most cost-effective strategy for providing universal access to electricity and clean-cooking facilities in developing countries is compatible with meeting global climate goals, and prevents millions of premature deaths each year.
According to IEA, the findings of the report are a positive sign that universal energy access is within reach for billions lacking basic energy services. The report provides an analysis for 140 countries and shows that the number of people without access to electricity fell to 1.1 billion in 2016, down from 1.6 billion in 2000.
The report presents a strategy for achieving universal energy access, one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015 by 193 countries to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030. It highlights the associated costs and benefits of such a strategy, underscoring the central role of energy in meeting human and economic development goals.
Asia is making progress, sub-Saharan Africa is lacking behind
Developing countries in Asia are making significant progress, according to the report. Many countries in the region are well on track to reach universal energy access by 2030, while India is on course to reach that goal by the early 2020s. Despite this progress, 674 million people are set to remain without electricity access in 2030, 90 per cent of them living in sub-Saharan Africa.
While fossil fuels, mainly coal, have been the primary new sources for electricity access since 2000, renewables are catching up quickly, providing more than a third of new connections in the last five years. This shift is expected to accelerate in coming years, and by 2030 renewables are set to provide new electricity access for three-in-five people, according to the analysis.
Clean cooking is still out of reach
Unlike electricity, improved access to clean-cooking facilities remains elusive. Today, 2.8 billion people still rely on biomass, coal and kerosene for cooking, roughly the same number as in 2000, according to the report.
Despite an increasing awareness of the health, human and environmental costs associated with these fuels, 2.3 billion people remain without clean-cooking access in 2030, with 2.5 million people dying prematurely each year as result of household air pollution.
The report presents an “Energy for All” case showing that providing universal access by 2030 would require an investment of USD 31 billion per year, equivalent to less than 2 per cent of global energy investment.
The overwhelming majority of this extra investment would need to be directed to sub-Saharan Africa, and most of it to renewables. The investment required for clean-cooking facilities, including liquefied petroleum gas, is modest and amounts to less than one-tenth of the total.