Energy as a factor in development


The quality of energy available and used by the world’s population is a determining factor for socio-economic development and the environmental problems tied to pollution and global warming.
Comparative analyses of data clearly show that an extensive use of quality energy (highly efficient, low emissions, etc.) is closely proportional to the development index of individual nations, nearly without exception. Just think of the results found in countries where available energy is badly distributed and of low quality: all the major socio-economic indices are negative (child infancy, schooling, malnutrition, poverty).
Access to electricity, the most important secondary form of energy in the world, is an excellent example: where access is guaranteed, children can dedicate time to their studies even in the evening, leading to better scholastic results, medicine can be conserved in refrigerators and cure more people, water supplies are much better and machinery and computers increase the efficiency of work, producing more wealth.
Another relevant factor is so-called " clean cooking", that is, the use of high-quality energy in food preparation. Particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and south-eastern Asia, the population still widely uses coal, oil and biomass fuels, and low-quality at that, releasing pollutants into the air and the food itself. Household air pollution from cooking is responsible for about 12% of global ambient PM2.5 pollution (with higher concentrations in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries).
In both circumstances, natural gas - and the connected technology that limits its emissions compared to other fossil fuels - can play a decisive role in future development policies to ensure everyone has access to reliable, sustainable and modern energy systems.
Electricity consumption worldwide has grown rapidly, a phenomenon that is mainly due to an increased use of this form of energy in newly industrialised or developing countries.
Over the years, not only has the amount of electricity consumption and its geographical distribution changed but also the impact of the various primary sources on the production of electricity. Globally, we have seen an increase in the use of natural gas and more modern renewable sources, in comparison with a sharp drop in oil. Global efforts to address climate change are leading to the rapid electrification of multiple end-users, from transport to industry, resulting in a radical transformation of power systems worldwide. The endless uses in all economic sectors have made electricity irreplaceable, as well as the fastest growing source of final energy demand.

  • IEA (International Energy Agency), Energy Access Outlook 2017;
  • IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Economic Outlook Database [Accessed 17 November 2017];
  • The World Bank, State of Electricity Access Report 2017; Sustainable Energy for All 2017 - Progress toward Sustainable Energy; World Development Indicators Database [Accessed 17 November 2017];
  • UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), Human Development Report 2016;
  • UNDP/IFC/IPIECA, Mapping the oil and gas industry to the Sustainable Development Goals: An Atlas;
  • UNSD (United Nations Statistics Division), National Accounts Main Aggregates Database [Accessed 17 November 2017];