An “encouraging” number of developing countries are implementing strong sustainable energy policies, but many nations in sub-Saharan Africa still lag far behind, according to a new report from the World Bank.
The survey also found both developed and developing countries are failing to take advantage of opportunities to reduce their carbon footprints by instituting energy efficiency measures.
Mexico, China, Turkey, India, Vietnam, Brazil and South Africa are among the top performers when it comes to supportive sustainable energy policy environments, according to the World Bank’s new RISE (Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy) project. The report ranked 111 countries based on their power sector policy and regulatory frameworks across three areas: energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
However, it found progress has been slow across sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to more than half of the world’s 1.1 billion people still living without electricity. Nigeria, Ethiopia and Sudan scored particularly poorly. But RISE did highlight Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania as exceptions with strong policy frameworks in place.
Countries in south Asia, specifically India and Bangladesh, are performing well in terms of access to energy, utilizing a mix of grid and off-grid solutions, the report finds.
Designed to help country governments assess, improve and track their sustainable energy policies in order to boost the industry and attract private investment, RISE was produced by the World Bank as part of the United Nations-led Sustainable Energy for All initiative. SEforALL aims to accelerate progress toward Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
RISE scores countries out of 100 based on how their energy policy fares against 27 indicators, and then color codes them as green for strong performance, yellow for middle performance, and red for weak performance. The scores were calculated based on data drawn from surveys and reviews of each country’s energy laws, regulations and policy documents as of 2015. RISE will be updated in 2018.
“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,” said SEforALL CEO Rachel Kyte. “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,” she added.
Experts welcomed the report’s findings. “Overall, the news is encouraging,” according to Vivien Foster, the World Bank’s energy economics global lead, who said that 40 percent of countries surveyed were scored green, of which half were from emerging economies.
While high-income countries performed better across all three energy areas compared with developing countries, Romania, Vietnam, Pakistan and Uganda are examples of low- and middle-income countries outperforming others in their income groups. Denmark came top of the list and Somalia came bottom.
Out of the three broad categories assessed — energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy — energy efficiency has the lowest performance rates despite being relatively low cost to institute and a “low hanging fruit,” according to Foster. For example, more than half of the countries surveyed scored poorly on indicators measuring compliance labeling regulations, and on average countries scored 10 points less for efficiency policies than for renewables, with many countries having few or no policies in place to support efficiency measures, the report said.
“Energy efficiency should come first as it’s the most obvious cheapest way to put countries on a pathway to achieving the Paris agreement. There needs to be greater political and policy commitment to this,” Kyte said.
On access to energy among countries with poor rates of electrification, the RISE report pointed to more needing to be done to support off-grid solutions such as stand-alone solar home systems, which are fast becoming a more viable options due to declining solar technology costs, Kyte said. She called this a “missed opportunity.”