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World Energy Outlook

Modern Energy for All

Modern Energy for AllModern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development. Access to modern energy is essential for the provision of clean water, sanitation and healthcare and for the provision of reliable and efficient lighting, heating, cooking, mechanical power, transport and telecommunications services. It is an alarming fact that today billions of people lack access to the most basic energy services: as World Energy Outlook 2013 shows nearly 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and more than 2.6 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which causes harmful indoor air pollution. These people are mainly in either developing Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and in rural areas. Our energy access database provides information at the country level.

The World Energy Outlook has devoted attention to the topic of energy access for many years, informing the international community with key quantitative analyses, including energy access databases, projections and estimates of the investment needs and implications for global energy use and CO2 emissions of universal energy access. Here we present, in full, our energy access analysis within World Energy Outlook 2013: WEO-2013 Energy for All.

A review of the last year reveals new commitments and new actions towards a goal of achieving universal modern energy access by 2030. A United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent Persons has recommended that universal access to modern energy services be included in the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The United States has launched a Power Africa initiative, aimed at doubling electricity access in Africa over five years.  Alongside this increase in political focus, the last year has seen new analysis which increases our understanding of energy access. The UN Year of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) in 2012 has now made way for a Decade of Sustainable Energy for All beginning in 2014. Global Tracking Framework, led by the IEA and the World Bank, is the first major analytical report produced under the SE4All initiative. The report defines the starting point against which progress can be measured and the scale of the challenge understood.

This new focus is encouraging but much more is required. In the absence of further action, WEO-2013 projects that nearly one billion people will be without electricity and 2.5 billion people will still be without clean cooking facilities in 2030. Analysis from WEO-2012 finds that nearly $1 trillion in cumulative investment – around $49 billion per year – is needed to achieve universal energy access by 2030. This is more than five-times the level of investment observed in 2009. Concerns that achieving modern energy access for all would unduly magnify the challenges of energy security or climate change are unfounded, as it would increase global energy demand and CO2 emissions by no more than 1% in 2030.

For further information, please contact weo@iea.org indicating "energy poverty" in the subject line.

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