Energy Access Dividend
The need to accelerate energy access raises important questions about how best to do this and how faster advances can be achieved in the face of potentially competing priorities. For example, what would be lost in terms of human and economic development if energy access progress was slower than it needed to be? The recent rapid uptake of renewable energy systems, drop in technology prices and higher efficiency of appliances have boosted the range of viable electricity options and the speed at which electricity access can be provided, especially for remote rural areas that are typically the last to be reached with traditional electric-grid solutions. Different renewable technologies provide varying levels, or Tiers, of electricity service, as well as economic, social and environmental benefits.
Quantifying the foregone benefits of delaying energy access was first explored in a research paper, Why Wait? Seizing the Energy Access Dividend, developed in collaboration with Power for All , that explores the concept of an energy access dividend that decision makers can expect by providing electricity access to populations more quickly. It assigns a specific economic, social and environmental value that households and countries can expect by receiving and delivering different Tiers of service. Such a dividend would allow decision makers to estimate the benefits of delivering electricity access faster through decentralized electricity solutions rather than through more conventional, centralized grid-based approaches. These conventional approaches are proven to be more time consuming and expensive.
In the first iteration, the Energy Access Dividend provides estimates for Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya and focuses on financial savings, educational benefits and climate benefits; a subset of the benefits of electrification. In future, SEforALL will work with its partner network on translating the lessons learned from the first research series to utilize the Dividend framework to act as a conversation-starter with governments on the need for accelerated energy access.