Modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country's economic development. Access to modern energy is essential for the provision of clean water, sanitation and healthcare and for the provision of reliable and efficient lighting, heating, cooking, mechanical power, transport and telecommunications services.
With the theme: "Better Hydro in an Interconnected World," the International Hydropower Association (IHA), with the joint support of the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the World Bank and the African Development Bank (AfDB) has finalized preparation to organize the World Hydropower Congress (WHC) to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as of May 9-11, 2017.
The Congress will attract more than 500 participants from governments, enterprises, research institutes and international organizations in more than 70 countries.
Taking "promoting clean development and building a harmonious world" as its mission, the GEIDCO is dedicated to facilitate the realization of global energy interconnection and sustainable development goals. At the beginning of 2017, the new UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres said that he would promote the integration of the Global Energy Interconnection into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and guide member states to participate in and promote global interconnection.
At this year's WHC, the GEIDCO will act as the common convener for General Assembly (Visions for an interconnected world) and three forums (Hydropower and Interconnection in Africa, Hydropower and long-distance transmission,Hybrid renewable energy systems), striving to build a cooperation platform for joint consultation, joint construction, joint sharing and win-win outcomes, facilitating the exploration and utilization of clean energy sources in Africa and the development of global energy interconnection.
It is an alarming fact that today billions of people lack access to the most basic energy services: as_World Energy Outlook 2016_shows_1.2_billion people are without access to electricity and more than 2.7 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, which is associated with the approximately 3.5 million deaths annually from indoor air pollution.
More than_95 % of those living without electricity and modern cooking fuels are in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, and they are predominantly in rural areas (around_80 % of the world total). While still far from complete, progress in providing electrification in urban areas has outpaced that in rural areas two to one since_2000. Sub-Saharan Africa_has now become the most electricity poor region in the world in terms of the total number of people (surpassing Asia), as well as the share of its overall population.
But the pace at which the picture in Africa has been deteriorating has slowed, and rapid population growth can conceal the efforts and results that are taking place.
While the number of people relying on biomass is larger in developing Asia than in sub-Saharan Africa, their share of the population is lower:_50 % in developing Asia, compared with over 80 % in sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, nearly three-quarters of the global population living without clean cooking facilities (around 2_billion people) live in just ten countries.
This deteriorating global picture dispels any notion that the transition to cleaner cooking fuels and appliances is straightforward. Economic development and income growth do not automatically lead to the adoption of clean cooking facilities, meaning that specific government policies have an important role to play. Despite this, clean cooking features much lower on government priorities than promoting access to electricity.
A population similar to that of the European Union and the United States combined lives without clean cooking facilities in India_(240_million people), by far the largest national population of any country in the world. Despite the fact that China achieved universal electricity access in 2015 - a major achievement - around one-third of China's population still does not have clean cooking facilities, illustrating the disconnect that can exist between rising incomes, improving electricity access and clean cooking.
Chinese President Xi Jinping at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015 proposed discussions on establishing Global Energy Interconnection to facilitate efforts to meet global power demand with clean and green alternatives.
In March 2016, the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization was formally established. It is a non-governmental, non-profit international organization composed of enterprises, associations, institutions and individuals on voluntary basis and committed to promoting the sustainable development of energy wordwide.
In fact, Africa boasts rich clean energy resources, with water energy accounting for 10 %, wind energy accounting for 32 % and solar energy accounting for 40 % of the world's total. At the same time, however, Africa's energy industry faces enormous challenges, such as small installed capacity, weak power infrastructure, unstable or unreliable power supply.
People with no electricity account for about 54 % of the total population in Africa. At present, African countries are promoting the development of electricity through electricity-related legislation and supervision, the establishment of electricity market, support for development projects and other forms. Africa also set up five major power alliances, gradually driving the formation of regional electricity market and promoting power grid interconnection and mutual relief.
Ethiopia is located in the upper reaches of the Nile, with water energy being the major form of energy resources. Its theoretical reserves of water energy totals 0.65 trillion kwh/year and its technological mining capacity is 0.26 trillion kwh/year, ranking second in Africa. Data show that from 2008 to 2013, the annual growth rate of Ethiopia's average electricity consumption was as high as 12.4 %.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a major strategy proposed by China for adapting to the economic globalization in the 21st century. Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that in order to facilitate the Belt and Road Initiative we needed to emphasize on key landmark projects, and strive to achieve outcomes as soon as possible.
Accelerating the connectivity of African power grid infrastructure and promoting the construction of energy network in Africa are of great significance to implementing China's Belt and Road Initiative, facilitating China's equipment industry to go global, achieving win-win cooperation and peaceful development between and for China and Africa. Moreover, such moves will generate enormous economic, social, environmental and comprehensive benefits.
Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) is a globally interconnected strong and smart grid with Ultra High Voltage (UHV) grids as the backbone. It is also an infrastructure platform on which clean energy can be developed, transmitted, and consumed on a massive scale worldwide. In essence, GEI is "Smart Grid + UHV Grid + Clean Energy."
Massive exploitation and use of fossil fuels brought about severe challenges of resource constraints, environmental pollution and climate change. To tackle global energy issues, we have to implement "Two Replace, One Restore and One Increase", and accelerate the creation of a new global energy development pattern with clean energy as the priority, electricity as the center, global allocation as the feature.
"Two Replacements" refers to replacing fossil fuels with clean alternatives such as solar, wind and hydro energy in energy production, and replacing coal, oil and gas by clean electricity from afar in energy consumption.
"One Restore" means the restoration of fossil fuel to its basic attribute as an industrial raw material to create greater value in socio-economic development.
"One Increase" means increasing electrification, which is to enlarge the proportion of electric power in energy consumption and reduce the total amount on the grounds of meeting energy demand.
GEI creates huge comprehensive value. It facilitates clean development. From now on, if global clean energy grows at an average growth rate of 12.4 % per year, by 2050, it will take up 80 % of the energy-mix. The target of holding global temperature increases by 2°C can be reached. This means sustained clean energy supply and the end of the fossil energy dilemma.
It drives up economic growth as it gains substantial benefits using differences in time zone, seasons and tariffs. Moreover, GEI promotes EITI, bringing new opportunities for global economy.
It also induces peaceful development. GEI can narrow regional differences, reduce international disputes, and promote a human community of common destiny. It can turn the world into a bright, peaceful and harmonious global village of green lands and blue skies with sustainable energy for all and prosperity around the world.
To materialize GEI, it is important to undertake three phases: domestic, intracontinental, and intercontinental interconnection. From now on to 2020, it is crucial to speed up clean energy development and grid interconnection within countries. From 2020-2030, countries should develop large--scale clean energy bases and cross-border grid interconnection within each continent.
Consequently, from 2030-2050, governments need to focus on the energy bases at the Arctic and the equatorial regions, speed up intercontinental grid interconnections. GEI will basically come into being. Currently, the resources, technologies, and economic and political environment for building GEI are ready.
As for resources, clean energy resources are quite abundant globally and a mere 0.05% of them could meet the total global energy demand. As for technologies, key technologies like UHV and smart grid are becoming more mature. China has built 6 AC and 7 DC UHV projects. Another 2 AC and 7 DC UHV projects are still under construction. They will transmit over 400 TWh of electricity every year.
Economically, clean energy has become more cost-effective. It is estimated that wind and PV power generation will be more competitive than fossil fuels by 2025. Politically, with the Paris Agreement coming into force on 4th November 2016, it has become a shared vision and common action for all countries to combat climate change and promote world energy transition.
Therefore, all stakeholders must take the opportunity to work together and speed up GEI, as the goal is to initially accomplish it by 2050.