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Last year we helped almost 354,000 people get access to sustainable energy services

Despite the availability of technical solutions, over a billion people are still without any form of electricity and 3 billion people still cook over open fires. 1

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 renewable energy sources are a powerful solution to poverty.

1 World Bank Global Tracking Framework 2017

Using technology to challenge poverty

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

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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Improved cooking stoves

Improved cook stoves use one third of the amount of firewood as a traditional fire, reducing household smoke levels.

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Low-smoke LPG stoves

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) stoves are benefiting thousands of families in western Sudan who now have a clean kitchens, clean lungs and more money.

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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

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

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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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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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Projects like this depend on your support. Please help us to work with communities around the world to save lives and improve livelihoods.

Household air pollution

Over four 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

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 renewable energy sources.

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 2016 edition of the PPEO explores energy access planning from the perspectives of poor people. It uses case study evidence from three contrasting countries to unpick what it means to plan for energy access from the bottom up.

Poor people's energy outlook

Energy access on our blogs

A tonic for development

Lack of access to modern, affordable and sustainable renewable energy services for the rural population remains a challenge in Zimbabwe. According to the World Energy Outlook 2000, the country currently has a national electrification rate of 41.5%. While electricity has reached 79% of urban ho...
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Margaret Kariuku — A self-established businesswoman

Margaret Kariuku is a Kenyan woman who has not had the easiest path to success. As a mother of four, she has struggled to find a stable income to provide for herself and her children. "Three times, I have had to start again. Three times, I have had to rebuild my livelihood. It all begun in ...
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Powering education in Zimbabwe

Globally, 1.3 billion people have no access to energy and it’s this lack of access that is keeping people living in poverty. Energy has the power to transform lives, it enables clinics to offer 24 hour care, for school children to study at night and it enables farmers to irrigate their land wi...
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Towards pro-poor innovation systems for sustainable energy

This article is informed by research conducted at Practical Action’s Southern Africa offices in Harare, Zimbabwe as part of a work-based placement at the University of Edinburgh.

Distributed renewables for access

The ongoing energy poverty that leaves 1.2 billion people in the world wi...
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Bidding adieu to 2016 : 10 best examples of practical solutions from India

With a number of challenges on the field and off the field, the team in India has managed to deliver some good sustainable practical solutions in last couple of years. Moving ahead for an eventful 2017 and with added challenges and milestones, I thought of ending the year with looking back at the...
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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

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 renewable 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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