One billion people still without electricity
The world will not meet the seventh sustainability development goal (SDG7) to deliver modern energy for all by 2030 if current trends continue, with one billion people worldwide still living without electricity.
That is according to a report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which shows that Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia remain the areas with the largest access deficit.
Based on official national-level data, the findings show that 87% of those without electricity live in rural areas, with the report predicting that 674 million people will be without access by 2030 under a business-as-usual approach.
“We must be more ambitious in harnessing the power of renewable energy to meet sustainable development and climate goals, and take more deliberate action to achieve a sustainable energy future,” said IRENA director-general Adnan Z. Amin.
Despite still being far off delivering SDG7, it was found that the number of people gaining access to power has been accelerating since 2010, with some of the strongest increases made in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania.
All of these countries increased their electricity access rate by 3% or more annually between 2010 and 2016, while India has provided power to 30 million people each year during that time – more than any other country.
Tens of millions of people now have access to electricity through solar home systems, or are connected to mini-grids, although this remains concentrated in around a dozen pioneering countries.
It was also found that rapidly falling costs have allowed solar and wind to compete with conventional power generation in multiple regions, driving growth in the share of renewables in electricity to 22.8% in 2015.
Between 2010 and 2015, China accounted for nearly 30% of absolute growth in renewable energy consumption, while the UK’s share of green power uptake grew by 1% annually during that time – more than five times the global average.
However, based on current policies, the worldwide renewable share is expected to reach just 21% by 2030, falling short of the substantial increase demanded by the SDG7 target.
“There is an urgent need for action, especially on renewables and energy efficiency, which are key for delivering on energy access, climate mitigation and lower air pollution,” commented Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.
Image credit: Getty
Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM