Achieving Sustainable Energy for All in the Asia-Pacific
UNDP report offering recommendations for countries aspiring to the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative goals.
In 2011 the United Nations launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, aiming to achieve universal access to energy, double the rate of efficiency improvement, and double the share of renewables in the global energy mix by 2030. This United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Asia-Pacific Regional Centre report provides recommendations for nations aspiring to reach these goals, focusing mostly on 18 countries in the Asia-Pacific region chosen either for their participation in SE4ALL, or to provide diversity of representation.
Following a lengthy executive summary, this comprehensive, data-rich report covers a number of topics: the benefits of energy access for poverty, health, gender and education, deforestation, and climate change; household thermal needs (cookstoves and biogas digesters); rural electrification through grid extensions, micro- and mini-grids, and off-grid solutions; energy efficiency, broken down across multiple sectors; profiles of the various renewable energy options; political, technical, social, and economic barriers and impediments; and case studies in overcoming such barriers. Finally, three conclusions are drawn from the analysis:
- Whilst efficiency and sustainability are important, energy access must be recognised as the most urgent of the SE4ALL goals for at least three reasons: utilising energy for productive purposes is key to escaping poverty; in Asia-Pacific, access to clean cooking stoves is a far greater problem in scale and severity than access to electricity; and expanding access to productive energy uses through decentralised systems is cheaper than electricity grid extension. The UNDPs 'Energy Plus' approach sits at the intersection of these aims, and has a potentially vital role to play.
- Promote bottom-up energy solutions: off-grid, small-scale, decentralised, and community-based. This should remain a core element of SE4ALL activities. Large operations can still play an important role however; a country's unique context must be considered in planning projects.
- Create an Asia-Pacific regional knowledge hub to act as coordinator of country actions related to SE4ALL. The hubs four tasks would be: disseminating best practice and promoting and supporting research; supporting 'investment readiness' by identifying countries ready for investment in sustainable energy; monitoring and evaluation of countries efforts in reaching SE4ALL objectives; and drawing on the opportunities that emerge.