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The Sustainable Energy for All initiative was launched by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to mobilize action and partnerships focused on sustainably meeting the increasing energy requirements of businesses and society. The initiative has set three primary objectives, to be met by 2030: ensuring universal access to modern energy services; doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency; and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
This report looks at the utilities industry and identifies nine priority actions it can take to reduce its energy use, increase renewable energy generation, and enable access to energy while simultaneously driving high performance.
The utilities industry can have a major impact on all three primary objectives of Sustainable Energy for All: energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.
With regard to energy access, utilities can expand service to developing urban areas as well as partner with governments and other organizations to expand access to rural areas, especially in developing countries. Improving energy efficiency in operations is also important; currently, a large percentage of the raw material inputs utilities use for power generation are not effectively converted to usable power. Finally, introducing renewable energy into the generation mix will become increasingly important to utilities’ long-term strategies, especially as utilities face increased regulations for renewable energy.
Sustainable energy can be a value driver for the utilities industry by allowing it to reach new markets and expand current offerings. The main areas are:
Reaching untapped markets. Electrification opportunities in urban and rural markets can be realized through innovative financing and creative business models.
Providing solutions for rural populations. Utilities can help meet pent-up demand for power in rural areas by developing distributed and off-grid solutions appropriate to this mostly lower-income market.
Developing infrastructure for urban electrification. As the world urbanizes, utilities will still be challenged to provide the necessary infrastructure economically.
Creating smart grids. Opportunities in the developed world include becoming more efficient. Smart grids are an important way for utilities to reduce operational costs and increase efficiencies.
The utilities industry can take nine priority actions to become more energy efficient and to advance its business opportunities in the sustainable energy market:
Deploy distributed energy technologies (micro- or off-grids) to advance rural electrification efforts.
Use innovative business models and create new products and services to improve energy affordability among low-income populations.
Increase adoption of smart grid technologies to modernize the grid.
Leverage existing infrastructure to advance urban and semi-urban electrification efforts.
Integrate a higher percentage of renewable energy into the electrical grid.
Improve energy efficiency in operations.
Increase adoption of an alternative energy vehicle infrastructure and a low carbon grid.
Educate consumers on how to improve energy efficiency.
Create new products and services to increase sustainable consumption by end customers.
October 2, 2012
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