While global trends are disappointing, recent national experiences around the world offer encouraging signs in access to electricity. There is mounting evidence that with the right approaches and policies, countries can make substantial progress in clean energy and energy access, and improve the lives of millions of people.
Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report, launched at the Sustainable Energy for All Forum in Lisbon, Portugal, on 2nd May, is the most comprehensive look available at the world’s progress towards the global energy targets on access to electricity, clean cooking, renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The following are some of the main findings of the report. Findings are based on official national-level data and measure global progress up to 2015 for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and 2016 for access to electricity and clean cooking.
One billion people – or 13 per cent of the world’s population – still live without electricity. Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and South Asia continue to be the areas of the world with the largest access deficits. Almost 87 per cent of the world’s people without electricity live in rural areas.
The number of people gaining access to power has been accelerating since 2010, but needs to ramp up further to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030. If current trends continue, an estimated 674 million people will still live without electricity in 2030.
Some of the strongest gains were made in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, which all increased their electricity access rate by 3 per cent or more annually between 2010 and 2016. Over the same period, India provided electricity to 30 million people annually, more than any other country. Sub-Saharan Africa’s electrification deficit has begun to fall in absolute terms for the first time.
Tens of millions of people now have access to electricity through solar home systems or are connected to mini-grids. However, these remain concentrated in about a dozen pioneering countries where penetration of solar electricity can reach as much as 5 to 15 per cent of the population.
Three billion people – or more than 40 per cent of the world’s population – do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
Parts of Asia have seen access to clean cooking outpace growth in population. In India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam, the population with access to clean cooking technologies grew by more than one per cent of their population annually.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, population growth in recent years has outstripped the number of people gaining access to clean cooking technologies by a ratio of four to one.
Clean cooking continues to lag the furthest behind of all the four energy targets, due to low consumer awareness, financing gaps, slow technological progress, and lack of infrastructure for fuel production and distribution.
As of 2015, the world obtained 17.5 per cent of its total final energy consumption from renewable sources, of which 9.6 per cent represents modern forms of renewable energy such as geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind. The remainder is traditional uses of biomass (such as fuelwood and charcoal).
Based on current policies, the renewable share globally is expected to reach just 21 per cent by 2030, with modern renewables growing to 15 per cent, falling short of the substantial increase demanded by the SDG 7 target.
The share of renewable energy in transport is rising quite rapidly, but from a very low base, amounting to only 2.8 per cent in 2015. The use of renewable energy for heating purposes has worldwide barely increased in recent years and stood at 24.8 per cent in 2015, of which one third was from modern uses.
Since 2010, China’s progress in renewable energy alone accounted for nearly 30 per cent of absolute growth in renewable energy consumption globally in 2015. Brazil was the only country among the top 20 largest energy consumers to substantially exceed the global average renewable share in all end uses: electricity, transport and heating. The UK’s share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption grew by 1% annually on average since 2010 – more than five times the global average.
Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report is a joint effort of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
(World Bank, wi)
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