Last year we helped almost 200,000 people get access to sustainable energy services

Despite the availability of technical solutions, 1.3 billion people are still without any form of electricity and 3 billion people still cook over open fires.

Practical Action provides practical power: renewable, locally-sourced sustainable energy solutions which lift people out of poverty.

  • Energy enables people to work their way out of poverty.
  • Energy provides better access to education and other basic services.
  • Energy improves health and wellbeing, especially for women and children.

Practical Action is committed to Total Energy Access, because we know from our work on the ground that sustainable energy is a powerful solution to poverty.

Using technology to challenge poverty

Practical Action aims to increase poor people's access to sustainable energy, through improving the efficiency of stoves, and through small-scale, low-cost, off-grid electricity supply.

Micro-hydro power

Micro-hydro power is a renewable, indigenous and non-polluting resource for the small-scale generation of energy using falling water.

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Small-scale wind power

Converting wind energy into electricity is clean, renewable and sustainable. Practical Action has developed reliable and cost effective wind energy systems to help meet electrical energy needs.

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Smoke hoods

Sheet metal smoke hoods are cost effective and efficient, reducing indoor smoke levels by up to 80%.

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Biogas from animal waste provides a free, sustainable source of power all year round, and a useful fertiliser for farmers

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Solar-powered water pumps

A solar-powered water pump that uses locally-sourced equipment can pump 30,000 clean litres of clean, safe water every day.

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Fireless cooker

The "fireless cooker" uses stored heat to cook food over a long period of time. A simple basket, insulated with banana leaves or old clothes, can reduce fuel use by 40%.

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Our experience

There is no “one size fits all” answer, which is why we don’t start with the technology, but with the people who use and benefit from it. Practical Action begins by talking to the people we are working with.

Find our more about the practical, sustainable technologies that people can use to improve their lives

Energy practice and learning

Energy projects

Energy policy

Practical Action believes that there does not have to be a trade-off between human development and the environment. Millions can be lifted out of poverty without ruining the planet with the help of clean sustainable energy.

Read more about our energy policy work

Our Poor people's energy briefing series offers critical input into the fast moving and dynamic energy sector from the perspective of what matters for poor people.

Poor people's energy briefings

Poor people's energy outlook

Practical Action has launched the Poor people’s energy outlook reports as a catalyst for a movement for change on energy access, and a source of information to support it.

The 2014 edition of the PPEO looks back at three years of analysis, to re-evaluate the key enabling role that energy plays in lifting people out of poverty. The report summarizes key lessons and evidence presented thus far and brings our learning up to date.

Poor people's energy outlook

Energy access on our blogs

Will COP21 deliver a Paris Protocol?

Have the global negotiations for a new climate agreement switched from a marathon to an egg and spoon race? We are now in the final leg of the marathon negotiations for a new climate agreement. At the last meeting in Bonn, the negotiators were expected to intensify their pace, but by the end o...
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Solar Power Cart: One stop solution for post cyclone energy need

We tend to think of development, not in terms of evolution, but in terms of creation. ~ EF Schumacher
Based on a trolley (3-wheeler) this new innovation of a Solar Power Cart “Soura Ratha” can produce up to 1KW green energy which will provide hassle free power supply i...
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'Where the need was there, energy made it possible'

At this year's Small is Festival held at the Centre for Alternative Technology in West Wales, I met Rod Edwards, who worked at Practical Action (then ITDG) from 1986 to 1992. As we're celebrating 50 years of Practical Action, I was eager to find out more about his work back then. [caption alig...
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Exciting times for off grid electricity in Africa

This week I am at the World Energy Council congress in Addis Ababa and have had the opportunity to speak at a couple of sessions on energy access. There have been some lively and informed debates, but for me the most interesting thing (given the congress attendees are generally from the formal po...
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Reflecting on technology in the lead up to COP21, Paris

These videos outline the background to the UNFCCC meetings held recently in preparation for the vital COP21 climate change talks in Paris at the end of November.

Technology needs assessment

Over the past year developing countries have been identifying their priority technology needs, t...
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Indoor air pollution

Nearly two million people die each year as a result of inhaling lethal smoke from kitchen stoves and fires.

But there are solutions - improved cooking stoves and simple smoke hoods can reduce indoor smoke levels by up to 80%.

Smoke - indoor air pollution

Decentralised energy

Most rural people cannot access large-scale power grids, and their only alternative is small stand-alone energy schemes. We develop appropriate options, including small-scale solar photovoltaic, wind, biomass and hydro schemes

Read more about decentralised energy

MEGA Malawi

The Mulanje Electricity Generation Authority micro-hydro project is a sustainable and ambitious social enterprise - aiming to tackle the dual challenges of sustainability and scale.

Read more about the MEGA micro-hydro project

Technical information

Our technical information service has a wide range of downloadable resources on all aspects of energy access, free to download.

Practical Answers energy technical briefs

Moving Energy Initiative

Practical Action Consulting is working with GVEP, Chatham House, UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council on the Moving Energy Initiative (MEI), an innovative project that seeks to meet the energy needs of displaced people in a safe, sustainable manner, developing solutions for heating/cooling, cooking, lighting, electrification and water and sanitation.

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SE4ALL Forum 2015

Sustainable Energy For All is a global UN initiative to mobilise action on universal energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy. The SE4ALL Forum brings together a huge number of stakeholders to discuss how the objectives of the initiative can be progressed.

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Video interview: Solving Africa’s power shortages

Video: Grace Mukasa, Practical Action East Africa Regional Director, talks to CNBC Africa on plans to improve access to energy in rural sub-Saharan Africa.

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