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Mapping Africa’s energy infrastructure: open data lights the way

Christopher James Arderne's picture
Credit: World Bank Photo Collection


Despite localized success stories, electricity access is still increasing slowly in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Global Tracking Framework, access in Africa increased from 31% to 38% over the period from 2007 to 2014. Globally, just over one billion people today have little or no access to electricity. The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to achieve affordable and clean energy for all with SDG 7. Efforts toward this goal were in sharp focus at the SEforALL Forum in New York City last month, where the latest progress, data, problems and achievements around the Sustainable Energy for All program were assessed and discussed.

Amongst clean cooking solutions, off-grid solar innovations and many others, the World Bank and partners launched a new data initiative. The ENERGYDATA.INFO platform aims to empower stakeholders from every side of the equation ‑ governments, private industry, financers, analysts, NGOs and the public ‑ with access to more and better quality data as well as analysis and tools that are simple and insightful.

One of the flagship apps released along with this platform is the Africa Electricity Grids Explorer, which presents the most complete and up-to-date openly available data on the electricity transmission and distribution networks in Sub-Saharan Africa. The last time a concerted effort was made to map Africa’s grid infrastructure was the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, now 10 years old. The Africa Electricity Grids Explorer attempts to bring such approaches into the modern era, by combining data from utilities and World Bank projects with crowd-sourced data from OpenStreetMap, satellite imagery analysis, and on-the-ground GPS tracking. This has already had a positive response from both policy-makers (who want to see data improved in their home countries) and modelers (who are using this new data in their efforts).
 

"This map shows current best publicly available data on existing and planned transmission and distribution networks in Sub-Saharan Africa, aggregated from a wide variety of sources. Dark lines are high voltage, while lighter lines are low voltage. Image from Africa Electricity Grids Explorer

Between 2 Geeks: Episode 5 - A renewable energy tipping point?

Tariq Khokhar's picture

Which World Bank financed project can you see from space, and on Leonardo DiCaprio’s Instagram?

As Raka and I found out in this episode, it’s the “Noor Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant” in Morocco - an epic energy project that’s part of the country’s plan to have 42% of its energy mix come from renewables by 2020.

Seriously, it’s epic: just look at these pictures from CNN and this World Bank video.

Renewable energy seems to be getting cheaper than ever, and we ask the question: are we reaching a “tipping point” where renewable energy is cheaper to produce than energy from fossil fuels.

In our discussion with Mafalda Duarte, head of the $8.3 billion Climate Investment Funds (CIF), I learned that renewable energy (in this case, concentrated solar power) is a bit more complicated than just finding somewhere sufficiently sunny or windy. For example, the concentrated solar power (CSP) technology being used in Noor Ouarzazate is relatively new and so more expensive. With the investment CIF is making, the cost of the CSP technology can be driven down, and the tipping point reached faster for other countries wanting to adopt the technology.

So what are the issues of geography, politics, technology and economics when it comes to large scale renewable energy, and how can we influence them to help countries reach the tipping point where renewable energy becomes the best option?

This episode of Between 2 Geeks is hosted by Tariq Khokhar & Raka Banerjee, and produced by Richard Miron. You can chat with us on twitter with the hashtag #Between2Geeks, listen to more episodes on the World Bank Soundcloud Channel and subscribe to “World Bank’s Podcasts” in your podcast app or on iTunes.

The 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: a new visual guide to data and development

World Bank Data Team's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français

The World Bank is pleased to release the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. With over 150 maps and data visualizations, the new publication charts the progress societies are making towards the 17 SDGs.

The Atlas is part of the World Development Indicators (WDI) family of products that offer high-quality, cross-country comparable statistics about development and people’s lives around the globe. You can:

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their associated 169 targets are ambitious. They will be challenging to implement, and challenging to measure. The Atlas offers the perspective of experts in the World Bank on each of the SDGs.

Trends, comparisons + country-level analysis for 17 SDGs

For example, the interactive treemap below illustrates how the number and distribution of people living in extreme poverty has changed between 1990 and 2013. The reduction in the number of poor in East Asia and Pacific is dramatic, and despite the decline in the Sub-Saharan Africa’s extreme poverty rate to 41 percent in 2013, the region’s population growth means that 389 million people lived on less than $1.90/day in 2013 - 113 million more than in 1990

Note: the light shaded areas in the treemap above represent the largest number of people living in extreme poverty in that country, in a single year, over the period 1990-2013.

Newly published data, methods and approaches for measuring development

Chart: Over 1 Billion People Had No Access to Electricity in 2014

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Also available in: العربية | 中文

Nearly 1.1 billion people or 15 percent of the world’s population had no access to electricity in 2014. Nearly half were in rural areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly a third were rural dwellers in South Asia. In all, 86 percent of people without electricity lived in rural areas, where providing infrastructure is more challenging. Read more in the Global Tracking Framework and their 2017 report on progress towards sustainable energy. 

How level is the playing field between countries in Latin America and the Caribbean?

Oscar Calvo-González's picture
Also available in: Español | Portuguese

In less than a generation the Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region has made great progress in expanding the basic public services that are necessary for children to succeed later in life. The skills, knowledge and health accumulated by individuals by the time they reach adulthood are essential to get jobs, accelerate economic mobility, and reduce inequality in the long-run. The progress observed in LAC ranges from increased access to healthcare and schools to running water and electricity. But progress has also been uneven, both across countries and for different types of basic services.

Today, the playing field in Latin America is most level in access to electricity, where we have seen gaps in coverage narrow the most. Figure 1 below shows how the typical performance in the region (the median) compares with the country in the region with the highest level of coverage (labeled “best in class”) in three basic services for children. The focus on children makes it possible to determine that any difference in access would be mostly due to circumstances out of their control. In the case of access to electricity the regional median has not only converged towards the best performing country but it has now reached a coverage of 99 percent.

Chart: LED lights gaining market share globally

Jiemei Liu's picture
Also available in: 中文 | العربية | Español | Français

How can industry remain competitive in the global market while meeting targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?  A recently released report by the World Bank Group and partners, A Greener Path to Competitiveness, explains that to meet these dual objectives, governments, industries and consumers must all take action. The lighting industry is an example of one area where these three entities have come together to mainstream an energy-efficient option, LED lights.

Chart: What are the primary fuel sources for major industries?

Erin Scronce's picture
Also available in: 中文

A new report from the World Bank Group in collaboration with CLASP and Carbon Trust, A Greener Path to Competitiveness, finds that industry has a large role to play in tackling climate change with huge untapped energy saving potential.

The report highlights the highest carbon-emitting sectors in the world’s economy: the production of iron and steel, aluminum, chemicals and cement. These industries continue to rely heavily on traditional fuel sources such as coal, natural gas and oil. There are significant opportunities to reduce these emissions, by using new technologies or retrofitting older plants to make production greener. Without urgent action, there is a danger that climate change targets set by the 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement will not be met.

Read more about how industries can find a greener path to competitiveness

Doing more with less: evaluating our consumption and production.

Edie Purdie's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français

This is part of a series of blogs focused on the Sustainable Development Goals and data from the 2016 Edition of World Development Indicators.  Chris Sall and Esther Naikal co-authored this blog.

A third of all energy is used to produce food but a third of food is lost or wasted. Saving a quarter of this lost food would be enough to feed 870 million people. “Doing more and better with less” means meeting the basic needs of people and promoting a better quality of life while also cutting harmful waste and pollution.   Using natural resources more efficiently is also a way to improve. Sustainable Development Goal 12 seeks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Managing natural resources efficiently

Adjusted net savings (ANS) is an indicator of efficient use of natural assets (target 12.2). It measures the difference between national production and consumption—the change in a country’s wealth. Adjusted net savings takes into account investment in human capital, depreciation of fixed capital, depletion of natural resources, and pollution damage. Positive savings form the basis for building wealth and future growth. Negative savings rates suggest declining wealth and unsustainable development. ANS is especially useful for gauging whether countries that depend heavily on natural resources are balancing the depletion of their natural resources by investing rents in other forms of productive capital, such as through education. Low- and lower middle-income countries with the highest level of resource dependence also tend to have the lowest savings rates.

Sustainable development and the demand for energy

Mahyar Eshragh Tabary's picture


This is part of a series of blogs focused on the Sustainable Development Goals and data from the 2016 Edition of World Development Indicators.

Between 1990 and 2013 worldwide energy use increased by about 54 percent, more than the 36 percent increase in the global population. Access to energy is fundamental to development, but as economies evolve, rising incomes and growing populations demand more energy.  Sustainable Development Goal 7 seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and achieving this will require increasing access to electricity, the take-up of clean fuels and renewable energies, and energy efficiency.

Chart: Countries Where over 80% of Electricity is Renewable

Tariq Khokhar's picture
Also available in: 中文 | Español | العربية

A fifth of the world's electricity production in 2012 came from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and hydropower. The International Energy Agency estimates this could rise to a quarter of the world's production by 2020.

Note: I picked "over 80%" just for emphasis - I was surprised by the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Zambia where hydropower is a big part of the energy generation mix. You can see a map with values for all countries with available data here.

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