Global access to electricity faces setback in 2022, despite renewable energy growth


(MENAFN) According to the International energy Agency (IEA) and the United Nations, the number of people without access to electricity worldwide increased in 2022 for the first time in a decade. Their joint report, published on Wednesday and co-authored by the World Bank, the International renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and the World Health Organization (WHO), revealed that approximately 685 million people lacked access to electricity in 2022, marking a rise of 10 million individuals compared to the previous year. This increase is attributed to factors such as population growth, heightened electricity connections, and challenges posed by the global energy crisis, inflation, and geopolitical tensions.

Experts attribute this setback in electricity access progress to various factors, including the Covid-19 crisis, soaring energy prices exacerbated by the conflict in Ukraine, geopolitical instability in the Middle East, and extreme weather events such as droughts and floods in sub-Saharan Africa. These challenges collectively contributed to what the report describes as a "reversal of progress achieved" in global electricity access.

Despite efforts to improve access to electricity, a significant portion of the global population—approximately 2.1 billion people in 2022—still relies on unhealthy cooking systems fueled by coal, manure, wood, or agricultural waste. The resulting fumes from these practices contribute to an estimated 3.2 million premature deaths annually.

However, the report highlights the substantial growth of renewable energy sources, particularly wind and solar energy. In 2022, the production capacity of renewable energy reached a new record level, averaging 424 watts per capita. Global consumption of renewable electricity also witnessed a significant increase, surpassing 6 percent compared to 2021 and accounting for 28.2 percent of total electricity consumption.

Moreover, financial assistance for low-carbon energy initiatives in developing countries saw a notable uptick in 2022, reaching usd15.4 billion—an increase of 25 percent compared to the previous year. Despite these positive developments, the world still faces challenges in achieving the United Nations' energy sustainable development goals by 2030, which aim to triple the capacity for renewable energy production, as outlined by the report's authors. 

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