With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
With at least a billion people worldwide living without electricity, and many millions more held back by blackouts and high costs, improving energy access is increasingly a top priority for governments, business leaders, and citizens across the developing world. With Power Africa, SE4All, and the inclusion of a universal energy access target in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the international community is responding to these growing demands. It is thus imperative that modern energy targets and indicators are set in a meaningful and practical way.
Energy access is necessary for improved cooking, heating, lighting, refrigeration, communications, and more that are all directly related to important health, education, and income goals. However, success for any broad goal requires setting the right specific target with which to measure progress. Unlike standardized measures with a 0-1 answer like infant mortality or primary school enrollment, energy access is not as simple as having a power line connected to a household. Modern energy access entails less a physical connection to a grid than the availability of reliable and affordable energy services necessary to sustain a dignified life. Current definitions of access, such as the IEA’s 100kWh/person/year threshold, would only provide enough electricity to power a single 60W lightbulb. This far understates the amount of electricity and energy services that a growing class of the world’s poor expect and demand.
Any meaningful energy access goals, in the SDGs and elsewhere, must reflect both this latent demand for modern energy and an allowance for future growth to that level. And because the push for energy access involves long-term infrastructure investments, aiming too low has potentially harmful consequences. This working group brings together the latest research and policy expertise to recommend a set of improved targets, indicators, and policies to ensure this moment for universal energy access is not wasted.
The first working group meeting was convened on March 17, 2015, in Washington, DC.
Working Group Members (affiliations listed for identification purposes only)
Mimi Alemayehou, Black Rhino Group
Todd Moss, CGD
Nicolina Angelou, ESMAP, World Bank Yaw Ansu, Africa Center for Economic Transformation Morgan Bazilian, World Bank Yael Borofsky, MIT Steve Brick, Clean Air Task Force Jonah Busch, CGD Afua Djimi, Black Rhino Group Emily Huie, ONE Campaign Ben Leo , CGD Vijay Modi, Columbia University Scott Morris, CGD Philippe Niyongabo, African Union Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough Institute Queen Nworisara-Quinn, Kupanda Capital Alex Rugamba, African Development Bank Kathryn Russell, ONE Campaign Bill Savedoff, CGD Kartikeya Singh, Fletcher School, Tufts University Peter Teague, Breakthrough Institute Johannes Urpelainen, Columbia University Catherine Wolfram, Energy Institute at Haas, UC Berkeley Davida Wood, World Resources Institute
Energy wonks will gather in New York City on April 3 for the third annual Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) forum to discuss progress on SDG7, whose aim is “By 2030, [to] ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.” The target is wonderful. The details are where this gets a little kinky.
In the twelve months to June 2016, nearly 1.3 million Kenyan households were connected to the grid for the first time. This impressive feat pushed Kenya’s national electricity connectivity rate to 55 percent from just 27 percent in 2013, one of the fastest connection increases recorded in the region. These latest connections illustrate the Kenyan government’s commitment to a goal of achieving universal energy access by 2020.
Visit the report page for a full interactive version and video.
“Modern energy access” is finally on the international agenda, but the current common definition of 100 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per capita per year is far too low.
To reflect likely demand and historical trends would require measuring energy usage at higher levels, such as 300 and 1,500 kWh per capita per year.