Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

My Top Three Videos about Energy and Development: Rosling, Gates, and Pritzker

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.

US Holiday Lights Use More Electricity Than El Salvador Does In a Year

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.

Three Energy Hopes for the G-20

“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.”

Why Is DfID Pushing Solar-Only When Africans Say They Want On-Grid Electricity?

Yesterday the UK government formally launched its much-awaited Energy Africa campaign, which aims to accelerate electricity access for rural Africans. In a surprise move, DfID’s new plans include only support for small-scale solar power solutions. Typically these systems provide just enough power for a LED light bulb or two and a cellphone charger (see here and here for a few DfID favorites).

Here’s a Better Way the SDGs Can #LightTheWay to End Poverty

A campaign to rally public support for the Sustainable Development Goals is calling upon people to #LightTheWay to fight poverty. It’s a lovely image: millions of people holding “candles, lanterns, and torches!” to urge world leaders as they meet in New York to make commitments to make the world a better place. Light is a symbol rich in religious connotations and evocative of human progress.

DFID’s “Energy Africa” Campaign Launch: Three Fast Facts, One Bad Idea, and at Least One Way Forward

On Monday, Grant Shapps, the UK's Minister of State at the Department for International Development, kicked off DFID’s Energy Africa campaign at an event hosted by the Shell Foundation designed to help his team figure out how the UK government can invest its political clout and an initial £30 million ($46 million) to tackle rural energy poverty in Africa. Given solar’s limitations and these risks, how can we make sure that Energy Africa fulfils Minister Shapps’s ambitious brief?

US Energy Policy Hypocrisy vs. Global Energy Poverty

The Electrify Africa Act is back, re-vamped for 2015 and a new session of Congress. Representatives Royce, Engel, and Bass introduced the bill this week (the House passed an earlier version last year, but the Senate didn’t vote on corresponding legislation before the end of the last congressional session). It includes many important provisions that aim to help African countries extend access to electricity to at least 50 million people by 2020.

Air Conditioning and Global Energy Demand

This is a joint post with Lucas Davis at the University of California, Berkeley. 

Sales of air conditioners have exploded worldwide over the last few years, driven by households and businesses in middle-income countries. 

SDG Seven: Update the ‘Modern’ in Universal Modern Energy Access

This is one of a series of CGD blogs on tweaks to the SDG targets.

I love the proposed Sustainable Development Goal Seven. It says “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. Target 7.1 is even better:  “By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.” Who could be against that?

Pages