Saturday, June 18, 2016

Clean Energy for Poorest Starved of Investment:  Researchers

Solar powered irrigation pumps (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
Only a tiny fraction of climate change funding is going into small-scale solar, biogas and other off-grid systems that may be the best way to get power to the world's poorest, researchers say.

That problem, evident in new figures from the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), points to a challenge for the main international organization promoting access to clean energy for everyone on the planet, which this week adopted a strategy to achieve that goal earlier than a 2030 deadline.

Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) head Rachel Kyte said its new five-year plan aimed to help "leaders to go further, faster" by supporting them to make good energy policy, setting up partnerships and unlocking finance.

"This will help us secure an energy transition that is clean, affordable and just, because no one must be left behind," she said in a statement.

There are still around 1 billion people in the world without access to electricity, and nearly 3 billion who cook using smoky fuels such as wood, kerosene and dung.

The new Sustainable Development Goals, which took effect this year, include a target to ensure universal access to "affordable, reliable and modern energy" by 2030.

Estimates of how much is needed to provide everyone in the world with electric power and clean cooking facilities range from $40 billion to $100 billion per year.

In 2011, the International Energy Agency said $23 billion was required annually for decentralized energy as part of that push, on top of existing funding, the new IIED report noted.

It calculated that, of the $14.1 billion approved by governments in international climate finance between 2003 and 2015, around 40 percent, or $5.6 billion, was earmarked for energy programs, but only 3.5 percent was specifically allocated for decentralized energy projects.

While it did not determine specific figures for wider development aid used to tackle climate change, the IIED said total public climate finance for small-scale, off-grid energy likely amounted to little more than 5 percent of what is needed.
The IIED paper said most public climate finance is going to large-scale energy projects in high and middle-income countries.

IIED researcher Neha Rai said bigger energy projects offered more easily measurable benefits to funders in terms of reducing planet-warming emissions, while the costs of putting smaller schemes in place were higher, a deterrent to investment.

But the paper noted how some countries like Bangladesh and Nepal have set up national agencies that bundle small projects together so they are more attractive and cheaper to fund. The agencies then channel money to the local level.

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