Whether at home cooking, lighting rooms and charging mobile phones or out and about traveling by car, bus or train, most of us today can’t imagine life without power – especially as just about everything from ATMs to escalators runs on electricity. We take it for granted that electricity is always available anywhere and everywhere. It comes as a bit of a shock when there’s a power outage or your smartphone battery dies and no socket is available for recharging.
Even though more people have access to electricity than ever before, there were still 789 million people living without power in 2018. That’s just under one in ten people. Most of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, where population growth is outpacing technological advances in the use of energy sources, such as liquefied gas, natural gas and electricity. As many as 2.8 billion people around the world still have to make do with inefficient and highly polluting cooking fuels. Every year, around 2.5 million people die from cancer, heart and lung disease or stroke as a result of indoor air pollution in homes.
Germany’s main sources of energy are coal, nuclear and renewable energy. Thanks to the energy transition and continual increases – from six percent in 2000 to around 47 percent in 2020 – in the contribution of renewables to the energy mix, the country is making progress in reducing and even completely replacing fossil-based energy sources. This minimises emissions and slows climate change.
Clean energy sources such as hydropower, wind energy or biomass help protect the environment and climate. In contrast, fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas aggravate air pollution and carbon emissions as well as accelerate climate change.
In line with the German government’s energy concept, renewable energy sources must provide at least 80 percent of the country’s gross electricity consumption by 2050. In fact, the country has already reached and exceeded the 2020 target ahead of schedule. This positive development since the year 2000 stems from increasing use of wind energy, biomass and photovoltaics in tandem with regulatory frameworks, such as the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG).
The goal is for all households around the world to have access to power, electricity to be used more efficiently and the proportion of renewables in the total energy supply to be doubled by 2030. So even remote areas as well as refugees and displaced people will be supplied with electricity. In order to build more sustainable and inclusive communities as well as mitigate against environmental impacts such as climate change, a premium must be placed on universal access to energy, greater energy efficiency and increased use of renewable energy by creating new economic and employment opportunities.
Yet we are still far from resolving this issue. That’s why we need to improve access to clean fuels and technologies as well as keep pushing to integrate renewable energy into application systems for buildings, transport and industry. Similarly, more public and private funds need to be invested in energy, while greater emphasis must be placed on regulatory frameworks and innovative business models to transform the world’s energy systems.