Global energy access begins with reducing borders

Posted on 15 October 2013

In order to achieve the UN goal of universal access to electricity by 2030, there must be movement toward eliminating border restrictions that prevent clean energy technologies from reaching those who need them most.

International and national efforts are “absolutely critical,” said Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC. “The quality of energy determines quality of life.” To bring down access barriers, Figueres urged real changes in government and institutional energy policies. That could start with eliminating high tariffs on green technologies in developing countries.

Reducing border barriers not only increases the opportunity for energy consumption, but also creates jobs in the field of energy production. “Economic prosperity” cannot be achieved without taking energy concerns seriously, said Kandeh Yumkella, the Special Representative to the UN Secretary General & CEO of SE4ALL. The low cost of labor in developing countries makes them ideal locations for the manufacturing of solar panels or other green technologies, he explained. But, progress just doesn’t stop with job creation, Yumkella said. “All UN Millennium Development Goals cannot be achieved without having energy as our goal.”

Funding the delivery of clean energy to the developing world will depend on many innovations, said Jim Rogers, the Chairman of Duke Energy in the US. Looking from a business perspective, Rogers explained challenges can be met by mixing three sources of funding: public funding through organizations like USAID, charitable contributions, and “impact investment” or institutional loans that get projects off the ground and eventually pay back the investor. Partnerships with local utility companies also need to be fostered to ensure that electricity reaches those in the most remote regions. There remains “much work to do to bring resources together to make it happen,” Rogers said.

 

This news story is based on the Closing session, “Clean energy without borders” at 2013 World Energy Congress.