“It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.”
Today the world, our earth stands at a critical juncture, where disasters of our own making are coming back to us. One of the biggest challenges that the entire world faces today in unison is energy poverty.
Briefly defined, Energy Poverty is a term for a lack of access to electricity, heat, or other forms of energy. Often referring to the situation of peoples in the developing world, the term also implies any quality of life issues relating to this lack of access
According to the Energy Poverty Action initiative of the World Economic Forum, “Access to energy is fundamental to improving quality of life and is a key imperative for economic development. In the developing world, energy poverty is still rife. Nearly 1.3 billion people still have no access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Sustainable Energy for All is an issue intriguing thinkers, planners, and government agencies worldwide. Energy Transforms lives, businesses and economies. For sustainable growth everyone should have access to sustainable energy. The United Nations Secretary General launched a pioneering new initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” to mobilize urgent global action. Also the year 2012 was declared the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All, recognizing that “… access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
Achieving sustainable energy for all is an ambitious but achievable target. The need of the hour is to move from Advocacy to Action, to remove conceptual cobwebs, to collaborate for some out of the box innovative strategies, policies and initiatives and make the difference in the lives of people who have yet to receive modern energy services.
It is not only important that we reach out to the energy starved people in the farther most corner of the globe, but we must also ensure its sustainability with minimal adverse impact on environment and the energy supply should be acceptable and affordable to the local people. The relationship between energy and poverty has been an issue preoccupying development specialists for many decades. Running modern economies without modern energy is impossible as it is quite well accepted that modern energy use is related in some way to economic development. The concern is whether the provision of energy services leads to economic development or economic development leads to expanding demand for energy. The generally accepted wisdom is that energy is a necessary but not sufficient condition for development. However, this begs the question as to whether the lack of energy, especially modern energy, is one of the causes of poverty. In this paper we examine the impact of energy on poverty reduction and whether it is possible to establish a level at which people can be perceived as “energy poor.” In this sense energy poverty is the point at which people are using the bare minimum energy needed to sustain a healthy life. Beyond this point, energy contributes to increased welfare and higher levels of economic well being.
Dimensions of Energy Poverty
With the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals fast approaching ,the world is on a path to an “unacceptable failure, both moral and practical”. None of the MDGs can be delivered without access to modern energy services for the 1.3 billion people who today live without it. A lack of basic energy service impacts all aspects of these people’s lives, from healthcare to clean water, safe housing, education and the potential to earn a living. Rural communities account for 85% of energy poor. Institutions, including the International Financial Institutions and also most governments focus on grid-expansion and densely populated urban areas. This simply leaves the rural poor perpetually exposed and in the dark. Key challenges include the lack of adapted financing mechanisms that can deliver on rural energification schemes; inadequate education and shortage of local skills for project initiation, implementation and system operation; the absence of easy local access to components for equipment maintenance and enhancement; the lack of understanding and political support necessary to replicate enduring local ownership models.
1.3 billion people lack access to network electricity. In the absence of vigorous new policies, more than 1 billion People will still lack electricity access in 2030 .
- • 4 out of 5 people without electricity live in rural areas of the developing world, mainly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
- • 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass – wood, agricultural residues and dung – for cooking and heating.
- • Poor people in developing countries spend up to a quarter of their cash income on energy
- • Firms in developing countries lose around 5 percent of their annual sales due to power outages
- • As of 2004, the richest 20% of the world’s population consume 58% of total energy, whereas the poorest 20% consume less than 4%
- • Urban air pollution, primarily transport-related, is responsible for upwards of 800,000 deaths globally each year
- • The world’s billion poorest people use only 0.2 tons of oil-equivalent energy per capita annually, while the billion richest—those earning on average over US$20,000 a year—use nearly 25 times as much
- • Developing countries have only developed about 20% of their hydropower resources, in comparison to 70% in OECD countries
- • The electricity sector’s ability to deliver improved service is constrained by poor resource utilization, low asset yields and commercial and technical inefficiency with system losses for ranging from 15% to 45% of electricity distributed
- • High transaction and unit investment costs constrain service provision in rural areas because of low demand and dispersed populations.
- • Energy production and use is the source of about two thirds of all global greenhouse emissions, and is by far the largest source of CO2
- • 1.6 million women and children die prematurely from indoor air pollution caused by burning solid fuels in poorly ventilated spaces. 40 new million new cases of chronic bronchitis are caused by exposure to soot and smoke every year
- • Low grade fuels and poor environmental controls in transport and industry are a leading cause of severe urban air pollution in the fast growing cities of developing countries. More than 80% of all deaths in developing countries attributable to air pollution-induced lung infections are among children under 5.