Clean energy access in Developing Countries: perspectives on policy and regulation

Several ambitious international initiatives that aim to deliver access to clean, modern energy services to underserved populations in developing countries have recently taken root, including the UN Sustainable Energy for All initiative, the Energy+ Partnership, and Power Africa. The scale of the challenge is great: today, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity, yet extending the electrical grid is not a cost-effective solution in many rural, low-income areas. The International Energy Agency estimates that to achieve universal access to electricity by 2030, more than 50 percent of new electricity connections will be through distributed energy solutions, and more than 90 percent of those will use renewable energy sources. To meet the scale of the challenge, policy and regulation will need to be designed in ways that recognize the potential of distributed renewable energy to contribute to energy access goals, especially given recent technological and business model innovations of enterprises delivering these solutions. International initiatives investing in clean energy access can work with national governments and local actors to inform policy and regulation that supports distributed renewable energy enterprises. This Issue Brief collects the perspectives of some of these enterprises on policy and regulatory barriers and opportunities to scaling up clean energy access, and synthesizes these perspectives into two recommendations: create and support platforms for enterprises—and other stakeholders—to have their voices heard in energy policy and regulatory decision making, and support targeted regulatory reforms and policy interventions focused on the financial sector to help unlock domestic capital.

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