Jeuland, M., Ohlendorf, N., Saparapa, R., Steckel, J.

Climate implications of electrification projects in the developing world: A systematic review

in Environmental Research Letters, 20.08.2020

Peer Review , Climate and Development

Energy is crucial to household health and consumption needs, and for enabling productive uses that enhance development. Yet increasing energy use also affects climate change. While "off-grid" renewable solutions offer the possibility of climate-sensitive development, some argue that a low emissions energy pathway conflicts with economic development. This systematic review analyzes the state of knowledge concerning the surprisingly understudied nexus of climate and development implications of electrification projects in low and middle income countries, focusing on whether and how these two potentially conflicting objectives can be balanced. After systematically identifying and coding the relevant literature, we describe the relationships between generation technologies, energy services, emissions, and development outcomes therein. Despite the increasing importance of this topic, relevant literature is scant, and largely supports the idea that the development impacts from off-grid, low-emissions renewables have been muted in the past, relative to high-emissions grid-based electrification. Our results hint at the fact that more sustainable long term development will inevitably require supporting poor countries in their efforts to develop high-quality electricity grids that are more reliant on low carbon technologies.