ASIAN countries are making a very significant contribution to achieving global sustainable energy goals, but need to implement some improvements to attain these objectives, according to a recent study conducted by the World Bank (WB).
Based on the WB report, Asia accounted for about 60 percent of the global progress on energy access and clean energy objectives during 2010-2012, contributing well beyond its share of global population and energy consumption.
The report, titled “Progress Toward Sustainable Energy: Global Tracking Framework 2015,” is the second in a series that tracks the world’s progress toward the three goals of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative.
These goals include universal energy access, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy by 2030.
While the first edition from 2013 measured progress between 1990 and 2010, this edition focuses on the 2010-2012 period.
But while the region performs strongly on ensuring electricity access for people and using more modern renewable energy, the report noted that there is room for further improvement on energy efficiency and access to clean, smoke-free cooking.
Performance on expanding RE strong
The report indicated that Asia’s performance on expanding modern renewable energy (from sources like solar, wind and geothermal) was particularly strong.
“Whereas globally, consumption of modern renewable energy grew by 4 percent per annum during 2010-2012, in Asia that growth was almost twice as fast at close to 8 percent,” the report reads.
Asia also moved rapidly to expand access to electricity for its citizens, growing the population with electricity by 0.9 percent annually over the tracking period 2010-2012, well ahead of the global rate of 0.6 percent.
And while the global population with access to clean, modern cooking fuels actually fell during 2010-2012, Asia showed a modest improvement in access, but still far short of what is needed.
The report, however, said Asia’s progress on reducing the energy intensity of its economies with a compound annual growth rate of 1.3 percent annually—a commonly used measure of energy efficiency —lagged behind the global average of 1.7 percent.
Some of Asia’s larger economies are critical to the global effort to reach Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All).
The report highlights some strong performances during the 2010-2012 tracking period. India, the Philippines and Bangladesh were the strongest performers on electricity access and added around 4 percentage points to electricity access rates.
Vietnam and Indonesia were particularly strong on access to clean, modern cooking fuels, and added around 3-4 percentage points to their access rates.
Japan and Indonesia stood out in reducing their energy intensity (commonly used as an indicator of energy efficiency) by a compound annual growth rate of around 5 percent.
Australia and China increased their renewable energy shares by about 1 percentage point each.
On a global basis, the report found that 222 million people worldwide got access to electricity between 2010 and 2012, still leaving 1.1 billion people without access to energy.
Meanwhile, 2.9 billion people are still using biomass fuels like wood and dung. Most of this population is in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and eastern Asia.
Energy intensity must decline faster
Also, while the world avoided using as much energy in 2012 as Japan used the same year, the report says energy intensity must decline at least 50 percent faster to achieve the SE4All energy efficiency goal.
Global consumption of modern renewable energy accelerated by 4 percent per year between 2010 and 2012, but must be closer to 8 percent—two times the current rate—to reach the SE4All renewable energy goal.
“We are heading in the right direction to end energy poverty,” said Anita Marangoly George, senior director of the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice.
George, however, said “we are still far from the finish line.”
“We will need to work a lot harder especially to mobilize much larger investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Leveraging public finance to mobilize private capital is imperative in achieving these goals,” said George.
The Sustainable Energy for All Global Tracking Framework is produced jointly by the World Bank’s Energy and Extractives Global Practice, the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP), and the International Energy Agency, and is supported by 20 other partner organizations and agencies.