Panel: Economic Growth and Rising Energy Demand – Low hanging fruits

Economic and Energy forecasts project rapid economic and population growth in the emerging regions of Africa and Asia, particularly in the urban centers. Even with dampened growth expectations due to COVID-19, this is expected to have profound implications for the energy sector, both regionally and globally. The stage is set for a new wave of dynamism among African and Asian policymakers and business communities, with falling costs of key renewable technologies opening new avenues for innovation and growth. However, particularly in rural areas, access to electricity is highly limited. Cooking is often done with wood or other solid biomasses, leading to degrading land and local air pollution with high social costs for the local community. Chief among the challenges is providing universal access to reliable, modern, affordable and sustainable energy. The potential benefits of a well-managed expansion of the region’s energy system, in terms of improved welfare and quality of life for its citizens, are huge.

However, many parts of the population do not have access to energy and governments often use fossil fuel powered thermal plants to address these issues. The fast deployment of renewable energy solutions could be the solution to trigger both economic growth and increased wellbeing, whilst at the same time contributing to the goals of the Paris Agreement. This session therefore seeks to explore simple and inexpensive solutions that are available today and that could remedy several of the challenges described above.