India is the best example of how an inability to provide energy to those who need it is both a cause and a result of the problems afflicting the developing world.
India’s consumption of energy is rising quickly–at 7.9% per year since 1946 (So why does the DOE think that will fall to 2.3%?). But although India produces a lot of coal and has significant hydroelectric resources, it isn’t keeping pace with rising demand. So India needs to spend money on oil imports that it would probably rather spend on roads and schools. A lot of that oil is attractively priced from Iran, which needs a reliable customer because of its own problems with foreign affairs, so this complicates India’s relationships, especially with the US.
But India really has little choice. 800 million people in India burn dung and whatever firewood they can find for fuel. 40% of the households in India aren’t even hooked up to the grid. Power blackouts and fuel shortages have been holding Indian industry back for decades–and it isn’t getting better.
India is trying to compensate with domestic development of nuclear, hydro, wind and solar. But India’s poverty and the high price tags for getting those sources up and running have made it a long, slow process.
The latent demand for energy in India is such that if energy was magically made available to the country at a price they could afford, energy consumption would triple in nanoseconds–and keep growing from there.
Development is tough.