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India lauded for improving energy access to 500 million people: IEA
India has provided electricity access to half a billion people since 2000. An energy access report of 140 countries brought out by the International Energy Agency on Thursday shows that those without access to electricity across the globe fell from 1.6 billion in 2000 to 1.1 billion in 2016.
Developing countries in Asia are making significant progress. Obviously, India has been among the largest contributors during this period. While many developing countries are set to provide universal energy access by 2030, going by the current pace, India would achieve it by 2020 itself. Still, 674 million people in the world, almost 90% of them in sub-Saharan Africa, will remain without electricity even after 2030, the report said.
The analysis says cost-effective strategies for providing universal access to electricity and clean-cooking facilities in developing countries would meet global climate goals and prevent millions of premature deaths each year. It would also benefit women the most as it would free up billions of hours currently lost to gathering firewood.
The report underscores the central role of energy in meeting human and economic development goals and is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015 by 193 countries, which set a target to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services by 2030.
The report also had a word of praise for the political leadership, especially that of India. “The good news is that a convergence of political will and cost reductions is accelerating progress,” said Fatih Birol, IEA’s executive director. “Just look at India, which has provided electricity access to half a billion people since 2000. The government’s tremendous efforts over the last several years have put it on track to achieve one of the biggest success stories ever in electrification,” he said.
Even as coal remains the primary source of new power, renewables have contributed more than one-third of new connections in the last five years. The shift is expected to accelerate in coming years, and by 2030, renewables would provide new electricity access to three out of five people, the report said.
Unlike electricity, improved access to clean cooking facilities remains elusive, the report said. About 2.8 billion people still rely on biomass, coal and kerosene for cooking, roughly the same number as in 2000. Despite an increasing awareness of the health, human and environmental costs associated with these fuels, 2.3 billion people would remain without clean cooking access in 2030, with 2.5 million people dying prematurely each year as a result of household air pollution, the report said. Universal access to clean cooking facility would spare women of the burden of collecting firewood, resulting in freeing up a workforce of 80 million people, the report said.