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Last year we helped 1.2 million people get access to modern, 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

Practical Action has been awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize in recognition of its pioneering approach to renewable energy and sustainability.

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 2017 edition of the PPEO considers how to best finance national integrated energy access plans for Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo. The report looks at the mix of technologies and funding required to achieve national and global energy access goals; and the roles of civil society and the private and public sectors in making this a reality.

Poor people's energy outlook

Energy access on our blogs

End energy poverty

Energy is one of the key indicators for development. Like other essential basic needs, a certain amount of energy is required for our survival. Depending on the context, livelihood patterns and way of living, energy needs are different. For example, nowadays, people in Bangladesh across all socio...
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Water is life for villagers in Darfur

  A simple solution like a solar powered water pump can have a profound impact on a community. This is eloquently demonstrated in these first-hand accounts from residents of two villages in drought-prone North Darfur. These stories were collected and written by Hamid Bakheet. "We w...
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Practical Action working to light Africa

A blog authored by Elizabeth Njoki and Robert Magori Access to modern energy services is a basic prerequisite for socio-economic development. Its effects extend far beyond the energy sector, such as poverty eradication, access to clean water, improved public health, education and wome...
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The power to transform communities

The village of Amaguaya sits on the slopes of the Cordillera Real mountain range in Bolivia about 4,000 metres above sea level.  Although it’s only just over 70 miles from La Paz, the journey there, mostly along a small single track, takes about five hours. Despite their remoteness, Amaguaya’s...
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Energy and forced displacement

A blog authored by Anna Noëlle Okello and Robert Magori Due to conflicts and environmental change, we are currently witnessing the highest number of displaced people since recorded history. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) there are over 65 million displaced people in the wo...
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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

Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R)

Through the Renewable Energy for Refugees project, Practical Action and UNHCR, supported by the IKEA Foundation, will help refugees and their host communities access finance, training, technology and expertise to facilitate renewable energy powering homes, schools, health clinics and businesses.

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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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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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