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To become prosperous and globally competitive, emerging economies require reliable, affordable, and abundant energy for industry and households
Energy is essential for economic growth and the basis of modern lifestyles, yet more than a billion people worldwide live without access to electricity. For millions who may have some access, power is too unreliable or expensive to achieve real prosperity. Boosting generation and expanding access are top priorities for African governments and their partners, including through the US Power Africa Initiative and the Electrify Africa Act. CGD research seeks to redefine what the world means by “modern energy” and to suggest ways to provide energy at scale for development to flourish.
Energy is a colossal development issue, touching on virtually every aspect of human progress from health and education to job and wealth creation. Modern energy access got its own Sustainable Development Goal (#7). Here are my three all-time favorite videos about the power unleashed by delivering energy to people—and what we can do about it.
At this time of the year, sparkling trees and decorated lawns have taken over. A 2008 study from the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that decorative seasonal lights accounted for 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity consumption every year in the United States. That’s just 0.2% of the country’s total electricity usage, but it could run 14 million refrigerators. It’s also more than the national electricity consumption of many developing countries, such as El Salvador, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nepal, or Cambodia.
“Energy Sustainability” is high on the agenda for the G-20 meeting in Antalya, Turkey, next week. In practice, this means the governments of the world’s leading economies will pledge to continue the laudable goals of phasing out inefficient subsides and boosting energy efficiency. But the meatier agenda is two wonkier research items. According to the Turkish presidency priorities communiqué (PDF), the G-20 will “study the reasons behind the high cost of renewable energy investment and examine the deployment of public and private resources to fulfill the need for energy investment.”
In an era of tight budgets, the US government needs to maximize development programs that deliver bang for the buck and services that people want. To do this, it must lean heavily on programs that leverage private capital in support of core development objectives.
Every year, millions of Americans power up decorative lights to celebrate the holidays. These festive lights invoke the best human aspirations of peace, joy, and generosity. This time of year, Americans should also celebrate that we can enjoy these traditions because we live in a country with a modern energy system that (almost always) delivers affordable 24/7 electricity.
President Obama’s Power Africa initiative clearly gathered a lot of momentum this week. First, the White House announced that approved and planned projects now represent almost 80 percent of the initial power generation target.
My family’s ancestral home in the village of Jakhan in India’s western state of Rajasthan exemplifies the challenges and opportunities of facilitating energy access in India. Though Rajasthan is perhaps the most densely populated desert on the planet, near Jakhan the population is spread more thinly, and electrification has been slow in coming. The dreams of people such as my grandparents, who wished to see central electricity access arrive at their doorstep, were unfortunately not met in time. My grandfather filed an application to have a grid connection reach his home in the 1970s. The connection came three decades after his passing. Today, over 300 million people still lack access to reliable centralized electricity in this nation of 1.2 billion people.