The current global energy system largely relies on fossil fuels and nuclear power, leading to many negative effects on the environment and on human health. However, it should be noted that fossil fuels are the main source of energy for the world’s poor, who rely heavily on solid fuels (biomass) for cooking, heating and lighting in their homes. The transition towards renewable energy sources, such as solar power, will reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases but it could also reduce access to electricity among low-income groups and widen the gap between poor people and those with higher incomes if not properly managed.

The Energy Transition Is Happening

Countries around the world are looking to embrace more sustainable, low-carbon energy sources in their electricity systems. But there is a risk that some communities and groups will be left behind as economies transition to cleaner energy.

The Energy Transition Will Benefit Developed Countries

In recent years, renewable energy has grown rapidly in terms of installed capacity and cost reductions. In 2013, world total renewable electricity generation grew by an estimated 6 percent from 2012 levels, reaching more than 816 terawatt hours (TWh). That same year, both wind and solar power were competitive with fossil fuels for first time in many regions. The rapid growth of renewable energy has brought down prices globally—and it’s also made it easier for developed countries to meet their carbon emissions targets ahead of schedule.

The Poor Are Poorer When They Use Fossil Fuels

The countries with low per capita income account for a disproportionately large share of energy consumption. Globally, 50% of all energy demand is supplied by fossil fuels—the main contributor to climate change. If a country relies heavily on fossil fuels, then its population will be exposed to frequent and severe impacts of climate change. In most cases, these societies are likely to be both poor and vulnerable.

Give New Technologies Access to Electricity Grids

New technologies like solar power and electric vehicles have a transformative impact on human development. But, there’s one major challenge that threatens to impede their widespread adoption: access to electricity grids. On top of being essential for energy access, they are also a central infrastructure for low-income communities around the world. So how can we ensure that low-income groups aren’t left further behind as economies embrace an energy transition? The use of open-source, decentralized technologies might hasten progress toward decarbonization programs for the benefit of the environment, resulting in unprecedented levels of creativity and transparency. As such, a company like Melanin Solar is using blockchain to build crowdgrid systems that empower households, especially among low-income households.

Energy Is Important For Health And Education, Too

As we talk about transitioning away from fossil fuels, it’s important to keep in mind that low-income groups are also heavily reliant on fossil fuels for lighting, cooking and other daily needs. If they aren’t given equal access to clean energy as they move forward, they may end up further behind than before.

New Technologies Can Reduce Costs And GHG Emissions

The energy transition has started, and it will likely accelerate. So far, developing countries have been reluctant to adopt renewables because of high costs and risks—but that’s changing. Technologies like solar panels and LED lighting are now more affordable than they used to be, as well as safer and more durable. As a result, renewable energy is set to boom in developing economies over the next few years. However, there are still some hurdles to overcome if low-income groups are going to benefit from these advances in technology.

Subsidize Solar Projects In Developing Countries

Many developing countries are rich in potential solar energy, which could be harnessed to meet their growing needs for electricity. It’s often more efficient and cheaper to set up utility-scale solar power plants than it is to rely on expensive imported fuels. The problem is that upfront costs are often too high for poorer nations, making them unable to pursue renewable energy projects without large subsidies from donors.


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