Access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy is crucial to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals – from poverty eradication via advancements in health, education, water supply and industrialization to mitigating climate change. Energy access, however, varies widely across countries and the current rate of progress falls short of what will be required to achieve the Goal. Redoubled efforts will be needed, particularly for countries with large energy access deficits and high energy consumption.
Achieving universal access
Improvements over the past two decades led to 85 percent of the world enjoying access to electricity in 2012. Nevertheless, around 1.1 billion people are still without. In Sub-Saharan Africa only 35 percent of the population has access to electricity, the lowest among all regions (figure 7a). Almost 40 percent of the world’s population relies primarily on wood, coal, charcoal, or animal waste to cook their food, breathing in toxic smoke that causes lung disease and kills nearly 4 million people a year, most of them women and children
Use of renewable energy is growing only modestly, but modern renewables comprise a large and expanding share
The share of renewable energy—derived from hydropower, solid and liquid biofuels, the wind, sun, biogas, geothermal and marine sources, and waste—in the world’s total final energy consumption increased marginally, from 17.4 per cent in 2000 to 18.1 per cent in 2012. However, modern renewables, which exclude solid biofuels, grew at a rate of 4 per cent a year between 2010 and 2012. The contribution of renewables to the electricity sector has been growing significantly. Modern renewables accounted for 60 per cent of all new power-generating capacity in 2014. In absolute terms, about 72 per cent of the increase in energy consumption from modern renewable sources between 2010 and 2012 came from developing regions, mostly Eastern Asia.