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  1. Abstract

    Energy transitions and decarbonization require rapid changes to a nation’s electricity generation mix. There are many feasible decarbonization pathways for the electricity sector, yet there is vast uncertainty about how these pathways will advance or derail the nation’s energy equality goals. We present a framework for investigating how decarbonization pathways, driven by a least-cost paradigm, will impact air pollution inequality across vulnerable groups (e.g., low-income, minorities) in the US. We find that if no decarbonization policies are implemented, Black and high-poverty communities may be burdened with 0.19–0.22 μg/m3higher PM2.5concentrations than the national average during the energy transition. National mandates requiring more than 80% deployment of renewable or low-carbon technologies achieve equality of air pollution concentrations across all demographic groups. Thus, if least-cost optimization capacity expansion models remain the dominant decision-making paradigm, strict low-carbon or renewable energy technology mandates will have the greatest likelihood of achieving national distributional energy equality. Decarbonization is essential to achieving climate goals, but myopic decarbonization policies that ignore co-pollutants may leave Black and high-poverty communities up to 26–34% higher PM2.5exposure than national averages over the energy transition.

  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Universal access to electricity is an essential part of sub-Saharan Africa’s path to development. With the United Nations setting Goal 7 of its sustainable development goals to be universal access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity, substantial research efforts have been made to optimize electricity supply based on projected demand in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries. Our study reviews the literature on electricity demand, with a specific focus on latent demand (i.e., electricity demand that would exist if the necessary techno-economic conditions were met) in SSA. We found that out of 57 electricity demand papers reviewed, only 3 (5%) incorporated latent demand in their electricity demand projections. Furthermore, majority of the literature on electricity consumption and demand estimation in SSA use econometric models to identify determinants of electricity consumption and project future demand. We find that population density, urbanization, household income, electricity price, market value of crops and availability of natural resources to be significant determinants of electricity consumption in SSA. We conclude the review by proposing a methodology, and providing an initial proof of concept, for more accurately projecting latent demand in sub-Saharan Africa. Incorporating latent demand in electrification models would help inform energy sector stakeholders (e.g., investors andmore »policymakers) about which sectors and geographic locations hold potential for wealth creation via electricity access.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  4. Abstract

    Access to electricity is a crucial aspect of sub-Saharan Africa’s path towards development. In light of the potential for electricity access to improve quality of life, the United Nations aims to achieve universal access to ‘clean, reliable, affordable and modern’ electricity as Goal 7 of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 7). As such, governments of sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, such as Ethiopia, have developed national electrification plans to outline their pathway to universal access to electricity. In this paper, we identify why it is essential for the national electrification plans of SSA countries to prioritize electricity access for productive uses in its agricultural sector, using Ethiopia as a case study. Reviewing existing literature and using the authors’ research, we point out that there is 3.04 terawatt-hours of latent demand for small-scale pressurized cereal-crop irrigation alone in Ethiopia. Supplying this electricity demand for small-scale irrigation could lead to a reduction in the levelized cost of electricity of up to 95%. We conclude our paper by recommending the creation of a cross-sector national productive use commission that would be tasked with collecting and sharing relevant data from each sector and collaboratively creating a national productive use program that would ensure thatmore »Ethiopia reaps the full benefits and potential for wealth creation from access to electricity.

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  5. Abstract

    Income-based energy poverty metrics ignore people’s behavior patterns, particularly reducing energy consumption to limit financial stress. We investigate energy-limiting behavior in low-income households using a residential electricity consumption dataset. We first determine the outdoor temperature at which households start using cooling systems, the inflection temperature. Our relative energy poverty metric, theenergy equity gap, is defined as the difference in the inflection temperatures between low and high-income groups. In our study region, we estimate the energy equity gap to be between 4.7–7.5 °F (2.6–4.2 °C). Within a sample of 4577 households, we found 86 energy-poor and 214 energy-insecure households. In contrast, the income-based energy poverty metric, energy burden (10% threshold), identified 141 households as energy-insecure. Only three households overlap between our energy equity gap and the income-based measure. Thus, the energy equity gap reveals a hidden but complementary aspect of energy poverty and insecurity.