During the recent 27th World Gas Conferencethat took place in Washington DC in June, the Inter-American Development Bank was invited to speak on the issue of access to sustainable energy.
Professor Mark Zoback (Stanford University) moderated the panel on the topics of energy availability affecting economic growth, the high upfront capital costs required to build energy-system infrastructure (and the need to finance it) and the overall role of gas associated with sustainable energy.
Latin America and the Caribbean is endowed with significant energy resources including hydrocarbons, hydroelectricity and biofuels. But this wealth is unevenly distributed.
Ariel Yepez Division Chief Energy Sector at the IDB, indicated that today, 19.2 million people lack access in Latin America and the Caribbean, impacting their lives and ultimately their health. In Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, where the IDB has been actively involved in connecting the last mile and where governments made such connection a national priority, tremendous progress has been made in the last 10 years in improving access in these countries with an electricity coverage index of 97.3%, 91% and 94%, respectively (OLADE 2018 figures).
The IDB is committed to help its 26-member countries in Latin America and the Caribbean expand the coverage, quality and reliability of energy services. The IDB also finances programs to improve energy efficiency, foster cross-border energy integration, and diversify the energy matrix by sustainably harnessing renewable energy sources.
Rachel Kyte (SEforAll) highlighted that close to 80% of people who lack access today reside in Africa. She pointed out to the impending growth of cities and how to respond to the formidable challenge of developing sustainable energy on a global level. In that regard, she signaled that decentralized access solutions will play a pivotal role in connecting rural and isolated communities as clean energy innovation technologies and smarter grids connection will become the most financially and economically feasible. This is the new “mindset shift” that will need to happen in this century.
The World Gas Conference is the most important global gas industry gathering of influential leaders, policy-makers, buyers, sellers and experts. Conducted since 1931, the triennial event aims to raise the voice of natural gas while offering timely updates on strategic, commercial and technical issues facing the entire gas value chain.