Need for Diversification: The Case of Ethiopia’s Future Energy Options

  • 2018/05/04     Dresden, Germany

    Image: iStock/naumoid

    By Cornel Dick, Intern, Communications and Advocacy

    The increasing demand for energy worldwide puts a strain on the energy sector. Addressing the urgent issues of sustainable energy and resource use calls for integrated and holistic approaches.

    At the Sustainable Energy for all (SEforAll) Forum (2–3 May) this week, actors from governments, civil society, and business, gather in Lisbon, Portugal to discuss and advance global sustainable energy goals. Centred around the theme ‘Leaving no one behind’ this year, the Forum aims to accelerate the process of ensuring universal access to clean and sustainable energy – stated in the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).

    This means evaluating the current state of progress in pursuing SDG7, especially in developing countries, where the gap is most pronounced.

    In the policy brief ‘“Energy Resource Use Options for Improved Energy Security in Ethiopia”, Dawit Diriba Guta (2016) highlights the necessity of increased progress with regard to technology and efficiency innovations in the area of alternative renewable energy sources, which in turn reduce production costs and advance energy security.

    Guta (2016) assesses the future energy options of Ethiopia in light of increasing energy consumption and the impact of climate change. So far, rising Ethiopian energy demand has been addressed by increased fossil fuel imports. This raises energy security issues, though, as Ethiopia would become increasingly dependent on these imports, if this solution would be applied further on. Moreover, extensive reliance on electricity generated through hydropower does not provide a vital option either, as dependence on hydropower implicates increased vulnerability to droughts.

    The solution lies, according to Guta, in the advance of the Ethiopian renewable energy capacities: questions in how to satisfy increasing energy demands, while meeting the concerns for energy security and feasibility could be met appropriately. Even though decentralised small-scale hydroelectric projects may be effective in mitigating the impact of climate change and droughts on the supply of hydropower in Ethiopia, there is a need for diversifying the energy sources especially considering renewable energy sources.

    Image: istock/jantroyka

    Advancing and applying the Nexus Approach to the sustainable management of environmental resources as well as sustainable development in general, need concerted efforts for measures to be implemented properly. The SEforAll Forum provides a platform for taking stock of our progress towards achieving SDG7 and for the networking of key actors – especially relevant for action alignment and the financing of research.

    In an interview by Thomson Reuters Foundation, Rachel Kyte, CEO of SEforALL, who is also the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on energy access said that Ethiopia can already be considered to be setting a good example.

    Sustainable Development Goal 7

    An integral part of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, SDG7 addresses energy-related issues. To date over 1.2 billion people are still lacking access to electricity. SDG7 targets to universally provide clean and affordable energy, a crucial goal in order to attain sustainable development by 2030.

    See the work of Dr Matthew Kurian, head of the Capacity Development and Governance unit at UNU-FLORES, and other UNU experts in this field on the Sustainable Development Explorer.

    “One billion people still lack electricity. Far more needs to be done to advance renewable
    and efficient energy in all sectors. From industries to transportation, from cities to rural
    areas… Let us invest in the future, not the past.”
    – UN Secretary-General António Guterres
    addressing the SEforAll Forum via video message


    Guta, Dawit Diriba. 2016. “Energy Resource Use Options for Improved Energy Security in Ethiopia”. DNC Poliy Brief. Dresden: UNU-FLORES. (Available for free download)