IEA Report Presents Scenarios for Sustainable Energy, SDG 7 Outlook for Africa
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The World Energy Outlook’s ‘Sustainable Development Scenario’ presents a way to achieve SDG 7 and SDG 13 and related sustainable development aims.

The related Africa Energy Outlook 2019 highlights the potential for Africa to take advantage of solar, wind, hydropower, natural gas and energy efficiency gains, in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063.

To achieve SDG 7, Africa will need to triple the average number of people who gain energy access every year.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) released the ‘World Energy Outlook 2019,’ which provides a set of scenarios that explore different possible futures. As part of the Outlook, IEA also released ‘The Africa Energy Outlook 2019,’ which highlights the potential for Africa’s energy sector to pursue a less carbon-intensive development path that delivers full access to electricity and clean cooking facilities while also delivering on the SDGs by 2030.

The World Energy Outlook’s ‘Current Policies Scenario’ finds that energy demand will increase by 1.3% each year to 2040, with increasing demand for energy services and a “relentless upwards march in energy-related emissions” and growing strain on nearly all aspects of energy security. When incorporating today’s policy intentions and targets, energy demand is predicted to increase by 1% annually to 2030. Half of this growth could come from low-carbon sources, primarily solar photovoltaics (PV) and natural gas.

In contrast, the ‘Stated Policies Scenario’ incorporates announced policy initiatives to examine the consequences of current policy choices. In this scenario, energy demand rises by 1% annually to 2040, with oil demand flattening out in the 2030s and coal use edging lower. Countries with net zero aspirations “go far” but the momentum behind clean energy technologies is not sufficient to offset the growing population and expanding global economy. The world falls “short of shared sustainability goals” in this scenario.

Africa has a unique opportunity to pursue a much less carbon-intensive development path than many other parts of the world.

The ‘Sustainable Development Scenario’ presents a way to achieve SDG 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDG 13 (climate action) and related sustainable development aims. In this scenario, multiple fuels and technologies are predicted to provide efficient, cost-effective energy services for all in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change. This scenario requires “rapid and widespread changes” across all parts of the energy system to hold the rise in global temperatures to well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

A World Energy Outlook’s component, the ‘Africa Energy Outlook 2019,’ examines Africa’s energy needs within the context of the region’s demographic and urbanization trends. Africa’s population is expected to exceed 2 billion before 2040, accounting for half of the global population increase during that period. The number of people living in African cities is predicted to increase by 600 million over the next two decades. These changes will drive economic growth and infrastructure development in Africa, contributing to an anticipated 60% increase in energy demand. This projected growth is equivalent to 1,320 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2040.

The report highlights the potential for Africa to take advantage of solar, wind, hydropower, natural gas and energy efficiency gains, in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063. The IEA’s Executive Director, Fatih Birol, said Africa has “a unique opportunity to pursue a much less carbon-intensive development path than many other parts of the world.” He explained, for example, that Africa has the richest solar resources in the world but has only installed 5 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics (PV), which is less than 1% of global capacity. If policymakers emphasize clean energy technologies, solar PV could become Africa’s largest electricity source in terms of installed capacity by 2040.

To achieve SDG 7, the report states that Africa will need to triple the average number of people who gain energy access every year from 20 million to 60 million people. The report identifies grid extension and densification as the least expensive option for 45% of the continent’s population to gain access by 2030, combined with mini-grids for 30% and stand-alone systems for 25% of the population. In rural areas, the report recommends using improved cookstoves to increase access to clean cooking. For rural areas, the report suggest liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is the best option, although biogas, ethanol and electrification can also contribute.

The report also highlights the impacts of climate change on Africa, noting that climate change poses risks to the continent’s food and economic security and health. An additional half a billion people in Africa are also expected to require some form of cooling as average temperatures on the continent increase, which could create a strong increase in electricity demand. In addition, increased intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, including droughts and floods, is predicted to increase variability in generation output, particularly from hydropower. The report therefore recommends ensuring that energy infrastructure is climate resilient. [Publication: World Energy Outlook 2019] [IEA Press Release on World Energy Outlook 2019] [Publication: Africa Energy Outlook 2019] [IEA Press Release on Africa Energy Outlook 2019] [Africa Energy Outlook 2019 Webpage

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