Researchers estimate a cost for universal access to energy

May 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —Universal access to modern energy could be achieved with an investment of between 65 and 86 billion US dollars a year up until 2030, new research has shown.

The proposed investments are higher than previous estimates but equate to just 3-4 per cent of current investments in the global energy system.

The findings, which have been presented today, May 3, in Environmental Research Letters, also include, for the first time, the policy costs for worldwide access to clean-combusting cooking fuels and stoves by 2030.

Access to electricity and clean-combusting cooking fuels and stoves could combat the estimated four million deaths a year from household caused by traditional cooking practices.

In their study, the researchers calculate that improved access to modern cooking fuels could avert between 0.6 and 1.8 million in 2030 and enhance wellbeing substantially.

The international group of researchers estimate that an additional of between 21 and 28 gigawatts would be required to provide a modest amount of electricity to all rural . This is less than the annual additions to generation capacity being made by China alone. They estimate this will cost around 180 to 250 billion dollars over the next 20 years with dedicated policies and measures also needed.

Added to this will be the policy costs to help ease the transition to clean cooking for more than 40 per cent of the world's population. The policies would include supporting the costs of new fuels, new stoves, and improved biomass stoves. The researchers estimate the costs to be in the region of 750 to 1000 billion dollars over the next 20 years.

Lead author of the paper, Dr Shonali Pachauri, a researcher at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria, said: "Our analysis indicates that without new policies and efforts, universal access to modern energy will not be achieved by 2030. Actually, for cooking, the situation may even worsen.

"The scale of investment required is small from a global perspective, though it will require additional financing for nations that are least likely to have access to sources of finances. But the benefits could be enormous.

"Our work shows that achieving this goal will result in significant health benefits and is likely to have negligible impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, even in the case where all populations switch to fossil-based LPG cooking, which is unlikely to be the case in reality."

The researchers arrived at the estimated costs using two modelling frameworks to explore the effectiveness of alternate policy pathways.

To estimate the total investment needed for expanding grid electricity access to rural populations, they included the costs of grid extension, operation and maintenance of the power system and investments for additional electricity generation.

They state that without policies to accelerate electrification, between 480 and 810 million additional people are estimated to gain access to electricity by 2030, but 600 to 850 million people in rural South and Pacific Asia and sub-Saharan Africa – the main regions of interest in this study – could still remain without .

The United Nations (UN) declared that 2012 was the "International Year of Sustainable Energy for All" with universal access to modern energy by 2030 as one of the stipulated objectives. This research provides new insights on how to achieve these objectives.

Explore further: Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years

More information: Pathways to achieve universal household access to modern energy by 2030' by Shonali Pachauri, Bas J van Ruijven, Yu Nagai, Keywan Riahi, Detlef P van Vuuren, Abeeku Brew-Hammond and Nebojsa Nakicenovic, 2013 Environ. Res. Lett. 8 024015. iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/8/2/024015/article

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User comments : 32

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alfie_null
4.3 / 5 (6) May 03, 2013
How would this be paid for? Particularly, in a way that doesn't involve completely subsidizing the cost (which would probably have a bad effect on the local culture).

Aside from that, what about other per-culture impacts. For instance, the prospect of replacing nomadic cultures with apartment dwelling TV junkies.
Pattern_chaser
2 / 5 (4) May 03, 2013
With our population at current levels, the last thing we need is to avoid premature deaths! Otherwise, to provide universal access to clean energy has to be a Good Thing.
antialias_physorg
4.4 / 5 (7) May 03, 2013
The cost doesn't seem all that high. The US could pay for this alone if they simply scrapped the F-35 program.
(Yeah...like THAT is gonna happen)
dogbert
3.1 / 5 (19) May 03, 2013
We cannot force third world countries to become modern industrial societies.

Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (58) May 03, 2013
Just more naive far left "sounds good" ideas, but with unknown unintended consequences. There are two ways of achieving advancement of the human condition.

1) Naturally, which is to say via natural social and economic forces based on existent realities and the nature of man,.... his egoistic and individualistic tendencies,... which presume freedom of choice and liberty. These are the core principals of capitalism, and IS what has got the western world where it is in terms of standard of living.

2) By use of force and coercion via big government planing,.. social engineering and control over human behavior, rationing or "nudging" via taxation,... redistribution of wealth,... in general to allow government and social statisticians to oppress your natural instincts and reduce your freedoms,... and then still fail anyway as Big Gov usually does. The history of man has demonstrated the horrors of "gov planning".

There is no end to what "we" could fix, nor to the loss of liberty.
Noumenon
1.9 / 5 (60) May 03, 2013
,... but each new childish, clueless, and idealistic generation thinks "they" can "fix" the worlds "problems" better than their far left grandfathers.

The greatest threat to personal liberty is the 'liberal progressive', the social engineer, and their army of statisticians.
beleg
1.9 / 5 (7) May 03, 2013
Any provider of energy can not afford having recipients of energy being their own providers.
Skepticus
1.4 / 5 (10) May 03, 2013
86 bln a year is too costly for a planet with 193 countries or so. The unwashed masses would have dirt cheap energy, which is bad for taxes and our shares! Screw them and keep the money coming!
Noumenon
1.9 / 5 (56) May 03, 2013
86 bln a year is too costly for a planet with 193 countries or so. The unwashed masses would have dirt cheap energy, which is bad for taxes and our shares! Screw them and keep the money coming!


If the western world equally distributed all its wealth across the global, to those unwilling or unable to create their own, the entire planet would return back to the stone age.

History has shown time and again, that the "unwashed masses" cannot be propped up artificially without fundamentally damaging their desire to advance themselves through the struggle it takes to become competent in maintaining a civilized modern society.

How many 3rd world societies are now Conditioned through Dependency upon foreign aid,... resulting in international pets, rather than proper human beings?
SolidRecovery
2.7 / 5 (12) May 03, 2013
We cannot force third world countries to become modern industrial societies.


There are many ways of looking at this and using force doesn't have to be one of them. The keyword here is access. Access implies that the infrastructure is there for the energy usage and people have the option of using it. The option does not currently exist and that is the problem.
Skepticus
1 / 5 (5) May 03, 2013
Noumenon

Perhaps you missed my sarcasm, he he. Anyway, my take is that if everybody wants cheaper energy (which we all do, when seeing the power bills, regardless of how rich you are), they should be prepared to pay their shares for making it possible. There would be no free rides for third world or poor countries, they would have to cough up the dough - proportionally to their GDP of course - to make it happen. The richer countries will of course have to foot larger shares, but that is one of the things that the more affluent have to do...or is it? Altruism is a detested concept to them, or is it not?
Benni
2.3 / 5 (9) May 03, 2013
The cost doesn't seem all that high. The US could pay for this alone if they simply scrapped the F-35 program.
(Yeah...like THAT is gonna happen)


Europe could pay for this alone if they simply scrapped manufacture of AirBus planes, & abandon the idea of that factory they want to build in the U.S.
(Yeah...like THAT is gonna happen)
GDM
3 / 5 (6) May 03, 2013
To Noumenon:
No, the greatest threat to personal liberty is the so called "conservatives" that want to deny the entire US Constitution to everyone who doesn't agree with them...oh, forgive me, everything except for the 2nd amendment, but god forbid they allow "the 'liberal progressive', the social engineer, and their army of statisticians" to carry a weapon if they should desire one. Read the news from your own sources for a change.
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (49) May 04, 2013
To Noumenon:
No, the greatest threat to personal liberty is the so called "conservatives" that want to deny the entire US Constitution to everyone who doesn't agree with them...oh, forgive me, everything except for the 2nd amendment, but god forbid they allow "the 'liberal progressive', the social engineer, and their army of statisticians" to carry a weapon if they should desire one. Read the news from your own sources for a change.


What are you talking about? What conservative wants to deny the USA constitution to USA citizens and legal residents? Did you just make that up?
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (49) May 04, 2013
Perhaps you missed my sarcasm. my take is that if everybody wants cheaper energy [..] they should be prepared to pay their shares for making it possible.


Nope, not possible, you beat me over the head with that sarcasm, which is why I responded.

You mentioned that 'everybody wants cheaper energy', which is of course true. That is a force. Along with freedom of choice, that's all that is required in a free market economy,.. an egoistic based mechanism, that is already naturally intrinsic in us, that seeks the least cost and best quality for our personal benefit. Investors desiring to make money will compete for that market, and individuals won't "HAVE TO" (coercion) pay 'their shares',.... instead they will CHOOSE to because there is an existent reality that compels them to, rather than some do-gooder pie-in-the-sky theory, that never works out.
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (50) May 04, 2013
The richer countries will of course have to foot larger shares, but that is one of the things that the more affluent have to do...or is it? Altruism is a detested concept to them, or is it not?


The 'social progressives' definition of altruism is fraudulent, as its based upon redistribution of wealth, ....other peoples money through coercion and force, is not being altruistic at all.

Liberals give more of other peoples money, while conservatives give more of their own money.
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (50) May 04, 2013
,... with each new generation of naive and idealistic liberals, comes another wave of dolts to defeat, who think "they" discovered something, ...that "they" can use scientific means of studying the social condition (validly) and propose coercion, redistribution of wealth, and regulation for improving it,... not realizing that it is only because previous generations had left those "defects" of humanity unresolved, that they came upon them, ... in acknowledgement that they represent the cost of freedom, and that that is the greater good by far.

Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (49) May 04, 2013
Why doesn't the liberal 'progressive' start a international private charity foundation to resolve these social "injustices" and inequalities? Surely there are enough liberals in the world to freely and abundantly fund such an organization?
Skepticus
1.4 / 5 (7) May 05, 2013
Noumenon
What can I say to such impeccable, wealth and profits-driven logic? I truly believe humans are better than the dog-eat-dog, alfa-males-led, getting-the-most-for-yourself-given-half-a-chance (or passing laws to do the same thing) that is currently the leading imperatives for a lot of people. The same sort of thinking that unscrupulous Chinese subscribed to when they put melamine into baby formulas, heavy metals in to paints and toys for children, smuggled formic acid- laced decaying chicken and other products over their borders to other unsuspecting countries, mass producing and exporting of banned industrial-use chemicals and growth promoters for vegetable and animals to same. As long as they can get away with it, or dragging it through the courts for eternity..who cares? Just like Israelis just bombed the shit out of the Syrians without declaring war, as per worth- as-shit international laws, for "suspected" weapons that may endanger them. And we call this "civilization"!
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (51) May 05, 2013
What can I say to such impeccable, wealth and profits-driven logic?


That's just the surface layer. The underlying motive force is survival of the fittest and desire of freedom. Capitalism results, and brings us into the next century. The rule of nature cannot be disagred with, and humans are not above natural law. Capitalism makes use of those laws, while socialism and communism work against them.
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (51) May 05, 2013
I truly believe humans are better than the dog-eat-dog, alfa-males-led, getting-the-most-for-yourself-given-half-a-chance (or passing laws to do the same thing) that is currently the leading imperatives for a lot of people


That's the problem with people who tend toward liberalism, they have the above negative view towards those principals of capitalism,.. competition, eogism, and profit motive, ....as if they are defects of humanity. Nope. They are beautiful natural mechanisms intrinsically necessary for the survival of all life on this planet.
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (52) May 05, 2013
The same sort of thinking that unscrupulous Chinese subscribed to when they put melamine into baby formulas, heavy metals in to paints and toys for children, [...]. As long as they can get away with it


Not true. They didn't get away with it; the fact that you know about it is proof that they didn't and lost millions, plus they added further to the impression that they make shotty products, big mistake.

Another illogic of liberals is to think the consumer has little power and is a passive victim of big evil corporations. The exact opposite is the case. You have a personal responsiblity to your child not to buy cheap dangerous products for them, and to research those products before buying them. A corporations greatest asset is the publics perception of them and won't be in business long if they do things to permanently damage that perception.
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (52) May 05, 2013
Just like Israelis just bombed the shit out of the Syrians without declaring war, as per worth- as-shit international laws, for "suspected" weapons that may endanger them. And we call this "civilization"!


They don't have to declare war as they're defending against a terrorist supporting faction. They wouldn't exist long if they didn't. They're surronded by savage cavemen that while taking a break from blowing each other up, constantly seek to provoke Israel. Are you even aware that Hezbollah is controlled and supported by Iran who repeatedly declared (by their president and supreme leader, no less) a desire to "wipe Israel from the map"?!

Another illogic of liberals, is this irresponsible and perpetual application of "moral equivalency" between nations, i.e. "Israel and the USA have nukes so why is it wrong for Iran to".

The USA will have a Right to destroy Irans nuclear weapons when the time comes as well, as they did justifiably took out Saddam in Iraq.
Noumenon
1.8 / 5 (52) May 05, 2013
I truly believe humans are better than the dog-eat-dog, alfa-males-led, getting-the-most-for-yourself-given-half-a-chance [....] that is currently the leading imperatives for a lot of people.


As I said above, your error is in associating a negative to those instincts as if they're vices, when even a cursory glance at western civilization shows they are actually very moral instincts.

No one does anything without personally benefitting from having done so. Even mother Teresa got to be "mother Teresa" from her efforts.
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (51) May 05, 2013
The cost doesn't seem all that high. The US could pay for this alone if they simply scrapped the F-35 program.
(Yeah...like THAT is gonna happen)


The incompetence of others is always the fault of the USA or G.W.Bush to a clueless liberal, no matter where on the planet it is.

Why is it that the political left expect such responsibility from a country and economic system they despise?
dogbert
3 / 5 (21) May 05, 2013
The cost doesn't seem all that high. The US could pay for this alone if they simply scrapped the F-35 program.


The cost exceeds all the wealth in the world. We cannot force third world countries to become modern industrial societies. Money thrown at that problem is just money destroyed.

For the same reason, we cannot force the chronic poor to live better. You can only help people who will help themselves and people who will help themselves need little help.
ForFreeMinds
2.5 / 5 (11) May 05, 2013
The study argues that replacing "traditional cooking practices" (but doesn't say what those are: I'd assume wood, but it might include propane or coal) would reduce indoor air pollution and deaths from it. And to do so we need "universal access to energy" meaning electricity.

Fine, so let those individual or communities decide whether they are better off:

a) moving to a location with electricity
b) spending their money to bring electricity to them
c) use cleaner "traditional cooking practices"
d) better ventilation

It would be immoral to force those who've already paid to get electricity to their homes, to pay for others to do the same. They can do it themselves.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 06, 2013
It would be immoral to force those who've already paid to get electricity to their homes, to pay for others to do the same. They can do it themselves.

What is 'immoral' about that?

As far as I understand morality it includes such stuff as: "helping those who are less fortunate".

What you describe isn't morality but selfishness.

Helping others to get up to speed does have its long-term benefits.
- Less incentive to move elsewhere (e.g. via illegal immigration ).
- Less potential for conflict (wars/crime to get at the 'riches of the neighbors').
- Creating an environment that will be able to contribute to the economy (and also will become a market for your goods. viz: anything that uses electricity).

All of this has happned when nations instituted electrification programs (yes, this includes the US). So why balk at the potential benefits when it comes to other nations?
dogbert
3.3 / 5 (16) May 06, 2013
So why balk at the potential benefits when it comes to other nations?


How do you propose to force those other nations to adopt policies which will lead to industrialization? They could have done that any time in the past 100 years and have not done it.

If you just throw money at them, you just fund their intransigence.
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (48) May 06, 2013
It would be immoral to force those who've already paid to get electricity to their homes, to pay for others to do the same. They can do it themselves.


What is 'immoral' about that?

As far as I understand morality it includes such stuff as: "helping those who are less fortunate".

What you describe isn't morality but selfishness.


You are factually incorrect, and it's not even a matter of opinion, but logic. ForFreeMinds clearly stated "to force those". Being forced to do something is not being moral, it's being a victim of immorality.

Helping those who are less fortunate is a moral act only if done by free choice, not by coercion or force. Theoretically, you could force Hitler to wash the feet of a Jew.

It is immoral to condition a people to dependency. It is immoral to dilute consequences of inaction or wrong decisions. There are reasons certain areas have little modern energy, and those reasons are necessary as consequences help man evolve .
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (48) May 06, 2013
,... do you not understand the difference between charity and redistribution of wealth? Do you not get that if the above "problem" is a legitimate one to force a solution, then every like inequality must also be solved by force, to be consistent and taken to its logical conclusion.

Such far left stupidity ignores the inarguable fact that Capitalism is what has improved the human condition to our present state. Destroying that mechanism by working counter to it, will bring everyone back to the stone age, which will cause everyone to be "less fortunate" then they otherwise would have been.
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) May 06, 2013
How do you propose to force those other nations to adopt policies which will lead to industrialization?

We're not talking industrialization. We're talking electrification.
And you don't need to force anyone to do this. You can set up a fund that is available for those who want to do it (and I don't know a single nation that would not be interested in doing it). Some nations currently just can't afford it.

To spell it out: They're not replacing these age-old methods for cooking/heating because they don't want to but because they are unable to (economically)

There is no 'force' involved in this at any level.

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