21 February 2013

How Fast Does Energy Access Occur?

The figure above was shown by Morgan Bazilian, Deputy Director of the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis, in his talk at our Center today (details plus a webcast of the talk here). It comes from Chapter 19 of the 2012 Global Energy Assessment by IIASA (here in PDF).

The graph shows for 10 countries the historical growth in energy access. In 1920, only 35% of Americans had energy access (here shown as "electricity access" defined as "household electrification"). This total reached 100% by the mid-1950s. In contrast, Mexico was at about 35% access in 1930, and has yet to get all the way to the 100% mark. China went from 35% in 1970 to 100% by about 2005, a very similar rate to that of the United States. You can see India is following a much shallower trajectory, going from about 25% in 1980 to 65% in 2010.

How fast can energy access occur? These data provide some insight into that question.


  1. Oh I get it!

    The inevitability of this graphs image is ignored by politicians but known by humans?

  2. Funny how the countries most behind in running up that energy hill are most beholden to western NGOs's?

  3. Written by John F., not Nancy

    In the USA access, as shown, stalled some in the 1930s and then picked up again. This period is described here:

    There it says:
    “In the 1930s, the U.S. lagged significantly behind Europe in providing electricity to rural areas . . .”

    That statement does not seem to fit with the UK line on the chart and the rest of Europe is not shown. However, it might be useful to point out that the USA is a very large place and in the ‘30s much of it was sparsely settled. Much still is. Anyway, a government program that worked!

    In the 1950s, my folks would take us to visit Great Aunt Lizzy. She did not have electricity but did have gas lights on the walls (with the piping inside the wall). Gas leaves a residue on the walls and ceiling and “spring cleaning” often involved rubbing the walls with Absorene®, a soft dry cleaner. Aunt Lizzy was advanced in age and no longer did spring cleaning so us little ones noticed the dimness and the odor. Such things linger in the mind.