World Bank Publishes ‘Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All’

16 July 2013: The World Bank has published a report, 'Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: Directions for the World Bank Group's Energy Sector,' as part of its efforts to foster universal energy access, improve energy efficiency and double the global share of renewable energy by 2030, goals inspired by the UN Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative.

The report indicates that energy programmes must be supported by a 'sound pricing and tariff policy, by subsidies targeting the poor, and by mechanisms for carbon pricing.' In this regard, it notes that energy efficiency remains highly under-exploited, despite being the lowest-cost means of increasing reliable, affordable and sustainable energy.

With the ongoing financial crises, the report underscores that fiscal and financial constrains have been scaling back the support for renewable energy and reducing the availability of commercial and concessional funds for developing countries. It also shows how high costs of energy impinge affordable energy for households and compromise competitiveness. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, electricity costs around US$0.20-0.50 per Kilowatt-hour, while the global average is US$0.10. The price disparity represents a barrier to expanding electrification in countries in this region.

On the other hand, the publication claims, under-pricing energy can threaten fiscal and energy sustainability. In this context, developed and emerging economies are critical to reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions curve by providing incentives for technological innovation and ensuring robust climate financing to developing countries.

The main themes covered by the report are:  renewable energy; natural gas; transmission and distribution; regional trade and market integration; financial performance; sector planning; access; and post-conflict reconstruction. In conclusion, the study proposes a greater focus on natural gas and reaffirms the World Bank Group's commitment to hydropower development. [Publication: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future for All: Directions for the World Bank Group'’s Energy Sector] [SE4ALL Website]