Meeting the energy needs of the poor


March 4th, 2013

How many PhD students does it take to change a lightbulb?  I don’t know but I heard plenty of suggestions last week!

Attending the Micro perspectives for decentralized energy supply conference, I engaged in discussions and listened to  presentations, many by postgraduate students, about ways to address the energy access in the developing world.  

I experienced frustration and inspiration in equal parts.  On the one hand,  hearing so many bright young minds focused on this important issue was wonderful.  But I was baffled to hear each one repeating the same  apparently surprising outcome from their research – namely that technology interventions were more successful when they had been developed in consultation with the community and with the energy needs of the users taken into account at the design stage.

Energy enables students to study for longer

Energy enables students to study for longer

Why was this a research finding?  Working at Practical Action this is the approach we start from every time.  Doesn’t everyone?  Apparently not!   Maybe it’s something people have to discover for themselves?   But it does seems a waste of effort when we should be concentrating on the best ways of improving energy access for the 1.3 billion people who don’ t have any.   

While there is no one single  solution for the world’s energy problems , it’s encouraging to know that there are plenty of people and organisations out there finding their own solutions – community by community.

One response to “Meeting the energy needs of the poor”

  1. Ariane Says:

    Very true…I ve seen in the west people keep buynig and selling houses depending upon the size of the family…In India I guess its ingrained within us that buynig a house is a life time investment..guess our fathers and forefathers have been that way and we follow suit :)…

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