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World Bank scores sustainable energy policies in 111 countries


World Bank scores sustainable energy policies in 111 countries

World Bank scores sustainable energy policies in 111 countries
Photo credit: Dominic Chavez | World Bank

An increasing number of developing countries – Mexico, China, Turkey, India, Vietnam, Brazil, and South Africa – are emerging as leaders in sustainable energy, with robust policies to support energy access, renewables and energy efficiency, according to a new World Bank Report.

But there is huge room for improvement across every region in the world and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, says the report, entitled RISE: Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy.

RISE is the first global policy scorecard of its kind, grading 111 countries in three areas: energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The report is aimed at helping governments assess if they have a policy and regulatory framework in place to drive progress on sustainable energy and pinpoints where more can be done to attract private investments. RISE also enables countries to measure their performance against others, and will allow them to track progress over time. 

“RISE will be an invaluable tool for policymakers, helping them to identify and bolster policies and regulations that spur the kind of investments needed to extend access to modern, affordable and reliable energy for all,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director and Head of Energy and Extractives at the World Bank.   

The report was produced as a contribution to Sustainable Energy for All Rachel Kyte, CEO and Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Energy for All, said: “The world is in a race to secure a clean energy transition – one that will deliver energy services for everyone, create jobs, ensure health care and education, and allow economies to grow. Increased use of renewable energy is a key element in that transition.”

She added: “RISE offers policymakers and investors the most detailed country-level insight yet into how we can level the playing field for renewable energy worldwide. Smart policy can accelerate this transition.”

While many of the countries surveyed in RISE have embraced the sustainable energy agenda, the report identifies important policy gaps across all regions, and highlights opportunities for rapid progress. Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s least electrified continent, where 600 million people still live without electricity. As many as 40 percent of Sub-Saharan African countries surveyed by RISE have barely taken any of the policy measures needed to accelerate energy access, compared to less than 10 percent of Asian countries. Exceptions include Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda which have strong policy frameworks.

RISE assesses where additional efforts are most needed – both developed and developing countries need to pull their weight. Among the top 10 high-impact countries for renewable energy and energy efficiency, all have relatively robust policy frameworks in place. The same cannot be said for the top 10 high-impact countries for access – both Nigeria and Ethiopia still need to make much progress in policies and regulations. The report notes that in order to improve electricity access, there must be a better balance between making power both affordable for customers without undermining the financial viability of the utilities that need to invest to provide service. 

With the plummeting costs of solar panels, there is now an opportunity to bring electricity to customers beyond the reach of utility networks. But many countries, have done little to create a regulatory environment favorable to accelerate the diffusion of solar home systems.

The report highlights that, in many countries, policymakers are not paying nearly as much attention to energy efficiency as to renewable energy, particularly in the developing world. Energy efficiency measures are usually the most cost-effective way of greening the energy sector. Examples like Vietnam that prioritized energy efficiency in its sector planning in response to high demand growth in the 1990s, show how much progress can be made in this area. Yet the majority of countries still need to adopt basic regulatory measures like appliance labeling, building codes, and equipment performance standards.

RISE finds that measures to promote renewable energy – such as targets, incentives and institutions – are widespread. The challenge is no longer how to build renewable power plants, but how to ensure that RISE data is freely available on an online platform that enables users to customize the information they need on each country’s power sector and policy framework. The report has 27 indicators and 80 subindicators and examines over 3,000 laws, regulations and policy documents.

RISE – Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy

Energy is a cornerstone of the world’s development agenda. Reliable, affordable access to modern energy services results in better jobs, health care and education. Women can walk home under the safety of streetlights and opportunities abound for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Very simply, access to energy can help end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. That’s why the world committed to Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all as one of 17 goals for 2030, and to dramatically increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources. The historic Paris climate change agreement in 2015 underscored the need to adopt as much clean energy as possible in order to limit global warming to under a 2°C increase. Energy targets also feature prominently in many countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions.

Achieving these energy goals calls for more than a trillion dollars of investment annually, which in turn requires an unprecedented scale-up of both public and private finance.

Investment in sustainable energy is affected by many factors, including market size, country risk, and financial markets, to name but a few. But a country’s policies and regulations also matter, and they are directly under the control of government.

But how can one find out if policymakers around the world truly rising to the challenge posed by the new global sustainable energy agenda? And where is further action needed urgently?

This is where the global sustainable energy scorecard RISE comes in.

RISE – Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy – assesses countries’ policy and regulatory support for each of the three pillars of sustainable energy – access to modern energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy.

RISE 2016 finds that:

  • Numerous countries are emerging as sustainable energy leaders across the developing world, but while progress is encouraging, there remain significant gaps in policy and regulatory frameworks.

  • Sub-Saharan Africa – the least electrified continent and home to about 600 million people without electricity – has one of the least developed policy environments to support energy access.

  • Policy frameworks for grid densification and expansion, which are the mainstay of electrification efforts, lag substantially and still need to make progress.

  • Too many countries are missing out on using solar power for universal electrification by neglecting enabling policies for stand-alone solar home systems.

  • It is critical to find ways to make electricity access affordable for consumers but make it financially viable for the utilities that provide the service at the same time.

  • Energy efficiency is often overlooked in the policy agenda, and many countries that have worked on energy efficiency measures have tended to do so on a relatively superficial level. Critical aspects of energy efficiency, including the role of utilities, remain in their infancy.

  • Efficient administrative procedures, such as hoe long consumers wait to get electricity connections or how long it takes a developer to start up a mini-grid are essential to accelerate progress on sustainable energy goals.

With 27 indicators covering 111 countries and representing 96 percent of the world population, RISE provides a reference point to help policymakers benchmark their sector policy and regulatory framework against those of regional and global peers, and to develop policies and regulations that advance sustainable energy goals.

Each RISE indicator targets an element of the policy or regulatory regime important to mobilizing investment, such as establishing planning processes and institutions, introducing dedicated incentives or support programs, and ensuring financially sound utilities.

Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of the strength and breadth of government support for sustainable energy and the actions they have taken to turn that support into reality.

RISE classifies countries into a green zone of strong performers in the top third, a yellow zone of middling performers, and a red zone of weaker performers in the bottom third. It will be updated every two years and an upcoming, complementary World Bank report – Global Tracking Framework – will track how countries are performing on sustainable energy goals. The Framework will be released at the Sustainable Energy for All Forumfrom April 3-5, 2017.

Download: Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy: A Global Scorecard for Policy Makers (PDF, 6.28 MB)


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