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New research on measurement tool can guide global energy policies

Fellows from the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI) Emily Pakhtigian, Marc Jeuland, Subhrendu Pattanayak, and Jonathan Phillips, recently published a paper titled Estimating Lost Dividends from Incomplete Energy Access Transitions. It proposes a new way to measure the advantages of electrification. This metric, called the Energy Access Dividend (EAD) applied in Honduras, considers factors like power outages and limited capacity, revealing the potential benefits lost due to unstable or incomplete electrification.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) drive the urgency to achieve universal electricity access. Bringing electricity to homes is widely seen as a key to progress, and this study suggests that current measurement methods even underestimate the true benefits. 

The researchers argue that simply counting electrified households misses the bigger picture. The study highlights a flaw in how progress is currently tracked. Most methods just look at whether a household has electricity or not. This binary approach overlooks crucial variations in service quality.

Honduras can show high electrification rates, but the case study shows significant variation in service quality. The benefits of electrification include not just lighting and phone charging, but also areas like healthcare, education, and business opportunities, which come with higher requirements for stability. The study also explores scenarios with slower or geographically limited electrification, highlighting how the EAD can inform policy decisions. The EAD reveals that achieving immediate, high-quality electricity access nationwide could generate nearly $700 million in additional benefits by 2050.


Can guide global energy policies

Findings extend beyond Honduras. By providing a more comprehensive way to measure electrification benefits, the EAD can help policymakers around the world make more informed choices. It can guide investments in grid expansion, off-grid solutions, and infrastructure upgrades, ultimately maximizing the impact of electrification efforts.

The authors acknowledge the need for further research on quantifying specific benefits, but the EAD is already a powerful tool. It allows for a more accurate picture of the electrification landscape and sheds light on the substantial dividends that are currently lost due to poor electricity access, paving the way for a more strategic and impactful approach to electrification globally.

By Belén Pulgar.

News | 22 May 2024