The Hidden Energy Crisis

How Policies are Failing the World's Poor

ISBN 978-185339-676-2

Teodoro Sanchez

About the authors
Table of contents
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Over two billion people worldwide are without access to clean, modern energy, which leads to drudgery, ill health and sometimes death. Although a lack of adequate energy affects people's health and well-being, as well as their productive and educational capacities, addressing this deficit is a low priority for governments and donor agencies.

The Hidden Energy Crisis outlines why we have failed so far to extend energy access to the world's poor, and suggests operating models that have greater potential to make a difference. It argues that meeting the basic needs of the world's energy poor will not make a significant difference to global carbon emissions. However, it will take substantial effort and finance from international donors, multinational and national governments to scale up successful pilot projects dramatically to make a real impact on the poor.

This book presents a call to action to address the energy crisis. It should be read by policy makers in governments and donor agencies, as well as academics, students and staff of donor agencies.


"This book provides a well needed insight into the challenges facing the developing world and the strong link between poverty and energy provision. Sanchez argues that progress in providing the minimum energy requirements needed to raise the Human Development Index has been very slow and there is little to suggest much progress will be made in reducing the 1.62 billion people currently without electricity. The dimension of climate change and its effects are addressed which is vital given that this aspect will affect the world's poorest more than any other sector. Sanchez gives a number of suggestions concerning how policies of the major funding agencies should be modified in light of arguments presented. Essential reading for anyone working in the area of energy in the context of international development."
Dr Keith R. Pullen, Reader in Energy Systems, City University, London

"Teo Sanchez touches a raw nerve in the world of energy access - the majority of the poor who remain peripheral to modern energy interventions. Unless we make a case for the poor, energy access will continue to remain low on the agenda of national government policies or international aid. Sanchez starts the debate with facts and figures, which I hope will convert into positive actions."
Dr Kavita Rai, Programme Manager, Global Village Energy Partnership

About the authors

Teodoro Sanchez was the Technology and Policy Adviser for Energy, Practical Action, and a mechanical engineer with 20 years' experience with Practical Action in Peru and Britain.

Table of contents

About the author

Andrew Scott

1. Inequalities in energy
Energy is fundamental to human life
Energy poverty and lack of access
Energy and development
Energy needs
Energy consumption patterns

2. Failure to reach the energy poor
Why has so little been achieved to date?
Lessons from developed countries' rural electrification
Is the issue of sustainability misleading?
Global trade policies
The failure of the electricity reforms to provide energy access for the poor
Barriers to access for the poor - myths or realities?

3. Energy solutions for the poor
Strategies for overcoming the barriers to energy access
Appropriate energy options for the poor
Decentralized electricity generation options
Energy options for cooking
Advantages, disadvantages and costs of different energy options
Financial and management models for electricity access

4. The funding gap
Existing commitments
The size of the financial gap
5. Climate change and energy for the poor
Energy and climate change
Energy poverty and climate justice
How much will energy access for the poor contribute to CO2 emissions?
Energy options for the poor
Low-carbon funding mechanisms

6. Conclusions and recommendations
Recommendations for promoting energy for the poor

Annex 1: Practical Action's experience with energy access for the poor


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