Energy for all by 2030
Billions of poor people have not got the energy they need to light their homes, cook meals safely and earn a living. Although the technology exists to deliver universal access to modern energy, a huge effort is needed to make that happen. Change is needed urgently in order to:
- improve the policy environment, to support poor people
- boost capacity to deliver more and better quality energy technologies
- ramp up the volume and types of energy financing that support access
Practical Action has joined the global effort to eliminate energy poverty and supports the UN goal of universal energy access by 2030.
Total Energy Access
The UN Secretary General’s ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative has proposed a goal of Universal Energy Access by 2030. Practical Action works towards this goal, recognising energy access as a critical lever in ending poverty.
Despite the availability of technical solutions, 1.3 billion people are still without any form of electricity and 2.7 billion people still cook over open fires. Practical Action believes that this represents a global technology injustice.
For Practical Action, ‘energy access’ means poor people having daily use of the energy they need for their wellbeing –for lighting, cooking and water heating, space heating, cooling, information and communications and earning a living – a set of minimum energy service standards we call “Total Energy Access”.
Policy and action needs to recognise the full range of energy services which people need, want and have a right to. People need a range of energy technologies, services and supplies to avoid darkness, drudgery and ill health in the household. Energy can help them to earn a living, and so escape poverty.
Standards and monitoring
Governments must be held to account for their action in supporting energy access. That is why clear targets and monitoring must be agreed at national and international levels. Progress should be measured in terms of achievement of minimum standards for each of the principal energy services people need. Monitoring the reliability, quality, affordability and adequacy of supplies is also needed to improve services. The financial and other commitments made by governments and relevant organisations must be monitored in order to ensure that it helps deliver progress where it is needed most.
Practical Action proposes the idea of energy access ecosystems as a guide to action. This recognises the multiple inter-related systems of people and organisations which are needed to deliver a variety of energy sources, equipment and appliances, both on and off-grid, as well as a variety of cooking and mechanical power options.
Creating healthy energy access ecosystems is critical to understanding the massive change which will have to take place if universal energy access is to be achieved. It will inform more joined-up and transformative approaches to policy, financing and capacity.
Practical Action has devised an Ecosystem Health Index to help to measure and guide concerted action on policy, capacity and financing.
Investment in energy access
Clearly, investment in energy access can – and must – be increased rapidly. Investment must increase by around a factor of five compared to 2009 levels. Domestic governments in developing countries should lead the way, supported in roughly equal measure by official development assistance and private investors.
Public investment is limited so it must be targeted effectively, both on leveraging private sector investment and on delivering energy access where private sector finance cannot, or does not yet, operate.
The private sector is good at innovating and implementing but cannot invest in markets without effective demand. So, it is important to stimulate opportunities for a full range of providers to deliver Total Energy Access solutions, enhancing demand for energy solutions in forms people really need and want.
For the UN goal of Universal Energy Access by 2030, it is estimated that 55% of all new electricity generated will be mini-grid or off-grid. The rest will come from national grid extension.
Financing of Universal Energy Access must therefore reflect the crucial importance of decentralised solutions. Countries like Brazil, China, Ghana, Morocco, South Africa and Vietnam have shown that, with political will, rapid progress towards universal access to modern energy services can happen via a range of energy supplies and delivery models.
Improved policy and governance and private sector action are important to accelerate progress and achieve lasting solutions. Yet experience shows that it is essential to work with and through communities and civil society organisations in order to respond to the needs of poor people.
Universal Energy Access is possible, and civil society action is a crucial part of the solution. This is vital for increasing awareness and understanding of peoples’ needs and for testing and communicating new delivery models.
Civil Society can hold policy makers to account for their actions and support the development of fairer market systems.
Energy policy brief
Billions of poor people have not got the energy they need to light their homes, cook meals safely and earn a living. Although the technology exists to deliver universal access to modern energy, a huge effort is needed to make that happen.
A step-change in the policy, capacity and finance for energy access will, in part, depend upon government, private sector and civil society cooperation. Practical Action invites, and welcomes, engagement with all who share our commitment to deliver Energy for All by 2030, in ways that make the most meaningful difference for poor people.
To explore opportunities for working together, or for more information please contact:
Helen Marsh, Head of Global Advocacy, firstname.lastname@example.org