Availability of energy has a direct impact on poverty, employment opportunities, education, demographic transition, indoor pollution and health, and has gender- and age-related implications. In rich countries, energy for lighting, heating and cooking is available at the flip of a switch. The energy is clean, safe, reliable and affordable. In poor countries, up to six hours a day is required to collect wood and dung for cooking and heating, and this task is usually done by women, who could be otherwise engaged in more productive activities.
Modern economies depend on a reliable and adequate energy supply, and developing countries need to secure this as a prerequisite for industrialization. All sectors of the economy — residential, commercial, transport, service and agriculture — demand modern energy services. These services in turn foster economic and social development at the local level by raising productivity and enabling local income generation. Energy supply affects jobs, productivity and development. Electricity is the dominant form of energy for communications, information technology, manufacturing and services.
The production, distribution and use of energy create pressures on the environment in the household, workplace and city, and at the national, regional and global levels. The environmental impacts can depend greatly on how energy is produced and used, the fuel mix, the structure of the energy systems and related energy regulatory actions and pricing structures. Gaseous emissions from the burning of fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere. Large hydropower dams cause silting.
Infrastructure is the backbone of any national energy system. Countries need to monitor the state of their major energy infrastructures to ensure a sustainable energy future. Many countries now depend on major energy infrastructures that are obsolete, inefficient, insufficient or environmentally unacceptable.