Modern 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 2012 shows 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and 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.
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 2012: WEO2012 Measuring progress towards Energy for All.
A review of the last year reveals new focus, new commitments and new actions towards a goal of achieving universal modern energy access by 2030. The United Nations designation of 2012 as the Year of Sustainable Energy for All, coupled with the decision by the UN Secretary‑General to include modern energy access within his Sustainable Energy for All initiative, have been important in generating new commitments this goal. But much more is required. In the absence of further action, WEO-2012 projects that nearly one billion people will be without electricity and 2.6 billion people will still be without clean cooking facilities in 2030. It 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 that 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 only increase global energy demand by 1% in 2030 and CO2 emissions by 0.6%.
WEO-2012 presents an Energy Development Index (EDI) for 80 countries, to aid policy makers in tracking progress towards providing modern energy access. The EDI is a composite index that measures a country’s energy development at the household and community level. It reveals a broad improvement in recent years, with China, Thailand, El Salvador, Argentina, Uruguay, Vietnam and Algeria showing the greatest progress. The sub-Saharan Africa region scores least well, dominating the lower half of the rankings.
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