The number of countries with strong policy frameworks for sustainable energy more than tripled from 17 to 59 between 2010 and 2017, and many of the world’s largest energy-consuming countries have significantly improved their renewable energy regulations since 2010.
This is according to a new World Bank report charting global progress on sustainable energy policies dubbed Rise 2018 which disclosed that progress was more marked in energy efficiency, with the percentage of countries establishing advanced policy frameworks growing more than ten-fold between 2010 and 2017.
Among countries with large populations living without electricity, 75 percent had by 2017 put in place the policies and regulations needed to expand energy access.
The report further notes that there are significant barriers to global progress on sustainable energy. While countries continue to be focused on clean energy policies for electricity, policies to decarbonize heating and transportation – which account for 80 percent of global energy use – continue to be overlooked.
Rise 2018 measures policy progress in 133 countries on renewable energy, energy efficiency, electricity access, and access to clean cooking; the four target areas of Sustainable Development Goal 7, which calls for achieving access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
This momentum was particularly marked in renewable energy. Among the countries covered by rising, only 37 percent had a national renewable energy target in 2010. By 2017, that had grown to 93 percent. By 2017, 84 percent of countries had a legal framework in place to support renewable energy deployment, while 95 percent allowed the private sector to own and operate renewable energy projects. Over the same period, the share of countries that had put in place national legislation on energy efficiency rose from 25 percent to 89 percent.
In countries with an electricity access deficit, policymakers are increasingly turning their attention to off-grid solutions to close the gap. The share of low-access countries adopting measures to support mini-grids and solar home systems have soared from around 15 percent in 2010 to 70 percent in 2017.
In the same countries, however, the deteriorating fiscal position of national utilities is putting progress at risk. Among countries with low access to energy, the number of utilities meeting basic creditworthiness criteria dropped from 63 percent in 2012 to 37 percent in 2016.
Among the four SDG7 target areas, clean cooking continues to be the most overlooked and underfunded by policymakers. While the report finds some evolution in policy frameworks since 2010, there has been little progress on standard-setting for cookstoves or on consumer and producer incentives to stimulate the adoption of clean technologies.