Billions of world denizens do not have access to electricity, modern cooking and heating fuels, and efficient transportation. Importantly, having access does not mean that they consume sufficient energy to lift themselves out of poverty. Increasingly, we are made aware that poor living conditions around the world have global environmental and health impacts. Energy poverty has been a target of the development community for decades. It is well understood that energy is a necessary albeit insufficient condition for improving the standard of living. Unfortunately, when I compare conditions in countries I visited in Africa and South Asia since the early 2000s, I cannot see sufficient progress. Population growth is one challenge. But, institutional deficiencies, driven by local sociopolitical and cultural forces, are dominant obstacles. Significant rents offered by energy projects are key to understanding energy politics in any jurisdiction. In this webinar, I will start at a higher level by offering estimates of energy infrastructure investments necessary to "eliminate energy poverty" to highlight the large gap left by the recent levels of actual investments. I will also discuss public and private sources of past investments and their distribution across energy supply chains. These numbers demonstrate the large scale of the challenge and force us to be realistic about energy and environment goals. I believe this is a good foundation to rejuvenate the focus on institutional infrastructure necessary to eliminate energy poverty in an efficient and clean manner.
Gürcan Gülen (PhD) is an energy economist with 25 years of international experience in policy and market research on oil, natural gas, and electric power value chains; and associated strategic technical assistance and customized capacity building in numerous countries. After 9 years at the University of Houston and 13 years at the Bureau of Economic Geology (UT-Austin), he is now Principal at G2 Energy Insights LLC and continues to instruct in executive programs. Dr. Gülen is a USAEE Senior Fellow.