Advertorial: Hastening energy access through reforming energy access

WITH investment of the right amounts and types of finance, modern and sustainable energy access is within reach for poor families in developing countries.

The energy access context: electricity and cooking

Currently, some 4 million people every year – mainly poor women and children – die as a result of breathing in smoke from traditional biomass cookstoves. Globally, more than three billion people continue to cook on a basic open fire and one billion are still without access to electricity, preventing them from reaching their full potential and emerging from poverty.

Financing Energy Access-The New PPEO Report

The new PPEO report explores how to best finance national integrated energy access plans for Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo, based on analysis of these markets and consultations with energy-poor communities in PPEO 2016.

The report also presents in-depth research into the mix of technologies and funding required to achieve Total Energy Access by 2030; that is,  energy access at the household level, in community services like health clinics and schools, and in enterprises and for productive uses of energy.

Previous PPEOs demonstrated how universal energy access is essential to achieving almost every Sustainable Development Goal, and the new series of PPEOs (2016-18) shows how to move from discussion to delivery.

The findings of the PPEO 2017 were presented on the SEforAll Forum Media Stage and at the Vienna Energy Forum earlier this year. Co-author and Practical Action’s Global Energy Representative Aaron Leopold, said of the report: “Access to the correct types of finance for energy access will help us overcome the scourge of poverty, by driving progress towards achieving universal access to electricity and clean cooking.”

Aaron further said, “Yet energy access finance is often not directed in the right way. Currently, the focus remains on investing in grid extension and generation capacity in too few countries–rather than looking at the requirements of the vast majority who live in energy poverty, many of whom are far from the central grid.”

In his presentation at the SEforAll Forum he went on to say that, “Women in particular, who often live in rural areas without meaningful energy access, can drive development when they become part of the energy system - by becoming entrepreneurs, educators, decision-makers and by empowering their communities in turn.”

“Decentralised systems can be particularly beneficial for women as both consumers and entrepreneurs and have, in recent times, attracted new funding from a range of sources; but this is not enough. At this rate, we are still set to fail in reaching the goal of achieving universal, sustainable and modern energy access by 2030.” Aaron said.

Key Research Findings:

• Current investment plans are largely out of line with the amounts of money needed, and are still directed to areas where they will have less impact in terms of energy access;

• Based on communities' preference for clean cooking fuels and technologies, national financing must rise to levels comparable with those for electricity access;

• National financing strategies need to address energy for productive and community uses as urgently as household needs. This can account for a substantial part of the costs of provision.

While we are not commenting on specific tools for financing, our recommendations highlight broader issues such as:

• Financing systems can and should actively promote gender equity in energy access, which is critical for more sustained, appropriate and equitable solutions;

• There is a need to shift financier evaluation and reward metrics, and create greater leadership commitment to the energy access sector; including through a key role for public finance;

• Wider programmes of market activation are required to build collaboration and trust between stakeholders.

The PPEO 2017 is the second in a suite of three new PPEOs; it is preceded by the PPEO 2016, which explores energy access planning from the bottom up, and will be followed by the PPEO 2018 which will look at how to achieve integrated energy access at scale.

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