Towards Energy Access for All : Planning for Impact

Rajagopal, Surabhi and Wykes, Sarah and Eales, Aran (2019) Towards Energy Access for All : Planning for Impact. [Report]

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    Abstract

    More than 1 billion people across the world lack access to electricity, while the figure rises to more than 3 billion for those lacking access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 aims to ensure access to reliable, affordable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. Strong and inclusive planning that ensures meaningful participation from local communities and effectively integrates various developmental needs is a critical component of achieving this goal. Until recently, the energy access narrative has been dominated by a binary approach focused on having electricity connections or not, or cooking with solid fuels or not, with little understanding of factors such as reliability, affordability and the drivers behind phenomena such as fuel and stove ‘stacking’. As a step towards more effective approaches to energy access, the Multi-Tier Framework (MTF), developed by the World Bank in 2015, provides a framework to assess energy service provision in terms of tiers of access at household level but also for community services and productive uses. It assesses the availability, quality, reliability, affordability and legality of energy services and can, thereby, enable target setting and monitoring of progress on delivering different levels of energy access. However, the current supply-oriented planning approaches of governments and enterprises overlook the need for clearer understanding of the demand for energy in different locations, and the impact energy access can potentially have on meeting wider end-user development needs, delivering on a range of SDGs. Better understanding of end-user energy demand would have significant implications for the kinds of solutions that could be planned for and the type of enabling environment required to support the long-term sustainability of these solutions. More inclusive, context-specific planning approaches are therefore required to understand the range and interrelatedness of energy services that can meet household, livelihood and community needs in specific locations, with better engagement of end users and key stakeholders. This would lead to more sustainable energy solutions with greater impact. This briefing paper suggests how energy planning can be made more inclusive and context-appropriate and contribute to larger developmental impacts. The paper also refers to tools and frameworks that have been developed to support this kind of planning approach, with examples of what has worked and what has not. It highlights the importance of holistic impact assessment, the current challenges faced in measuring impacts and possible ways to address them. The learning can be summarized in three key points: 1. Energy planning needs to be an inclusive, multi-stakeholder process that understands and addresses energy needs from an integrated development perspective; 2. Sustainable delivery of energy solutions depends on the development of a strong ecosystem and supporting services; 3. Measuring the impact of energy access needs to go beyond numbers of electricity connections and products sold to a tiered approach that treats energy as a service and assesses how usable that service is.