According to a new report from five international agencies, including IRENA and the IEA, the world is not yet on track to meet the global energy targets for 2030 set as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. However, real progress has been made in certain areas, particularly expansion of access to electricity in least developed countries and industrial energy efficiency.
Renewable energy is also making impressive gains in the electricity sector, although these advances are not being matched in transportation and heating – which together account for 80% of global energy consumption.
While global trends are disappointing, say the authors of the new report Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress, recent national experiences around the world offer encouraging signs. For example, there is mounting evidence that with the right approaches and policies, countries can make substantial in clean energy and energy access, and improve the lives of millions of people.
The following are some of the main findings of the report. Findings are based official national-level data and measure global progress up to 2015 for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and 2016 for access to electricity and clean cooking.
- As of 2015, the world obtained 17.5% of its total final energy consumption from renewable sources, of which 9.6% represents modern forms of renewable energy such as geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind. The remainder is traditional uses of biomass (such as fuelwood and charcoal).
- Based on current policies, the renewable share is expected to reach just 21% by 2030, with modern renewables growing to 15%, falling short of the substantial increase demanded by the SDG7 target.
- Rapidly falling costs have allowed solar and wind to compete with conventional power generation sources in multiple regions, driving the growth in the share of renewables in electricity to 22.8% in 2015. But electricity accounted for only 20% of total final energy consumption that year, highlighting the need to accelerate progress in transport and heating.
- The share of renewable energy in transport is rising quite rapidly, but from a very low base, amounting to only 2.8% in 2015. The use of renewable energy for heating purposes has barely increased in recent years and stood at 24.8% in 2015, of which one third was from modern uses.
- Since 2010, China’s progress in renewable energy alone accounted for nearly 30% of absolute growth in renewable energy consumption globally in 2015. Brazil was the only country among the top 20 largest energy consumers to substantially exceed the global average renewable share in all end uses: electricity, transport and heating. The UK’s share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption grew by 1% annually on average since 2010 – more than five times the global average.
Access to electricity
- One billion people – or 13% of the world’s population – still live without electricity. Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central and South Asia continue to be the areas of the world with the largest access deficits. Almost 87% of the world’s people without electricity live in rural areas.
- The number of people gaining access to power has been accelerating since 2010, but needs to ramp up further to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030. If current trends continue, an estimated 674 million people will still live without electricity in 2030.
- Some of the strongest gains were made in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, which all increased their electricity access rate by 3% or more annually between 2010 and 2016. Over the same period, India provided electricity to 30 million people annually, more than any other country. Sub-Saharan Africa’s electrification deficit has begun to fall in absolute terms for the first time.
- Tens of millions of people now have access to electricity through solar home systems or connected to mini-grids. However, these remain concentrated in about a dozen pioneering countries where penetration of solar electricity can reach as much as 5-15% of the population.
“It is clear that the energy sector must be at the heart of any effort to lead the world on a more sustainable pathway,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA). “There is an urgent need for action on all technologies, especially on renewables and energy efficiency, which are key for delivering on three critical goals – energy access, climate mitigation and lower air pollution. The IEA is committed to leading this agenda and working with counties around the world to support clean energy transitions.”
The Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report is a joint effort of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
This is the fourth edition of this report, formerly known as the Global Tracking Framework (GTF). The report can be downloaded here.
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