The Poor People's Energy Outlook series (PPEO) was launched in 2010 to shine a light on energy access from the perspectives of the poor. The series challenges the energy sector's focus on energy resources, supply and large scale infrastructure projects; emphasising instead that it is energy services which matter most to poor people, and decentralised approaches are the best way to achieve universal energy access.

By drawing on the realities of energy-poor people, the PPEO series has been hugely influential in re-framing the narrative around energy access. As a result of the PPEO’s awareness-raising of energy poverty and access issues, Practical Action co-designed the SE4ALL Global Tracking Framework which has now become the global standard in measuring levels of energy access.

Total Energy Access Framework

The PPEO series has addressed different elements of the Total Energy Access Framework, recommending that energy access needs should be considered across three key areas: in households, at work, and in the wider community.

Total Energy Access infographic

  • Energy for households (2010) outlined the range of energy services that people need in their homes (lighting, cooking, etc.), proposing minimum standards for each of these.
  • Energy for earning a living (2012) addressed the energy services needed across a range of productive activities, including agriculture and micro and small-scale enterprises.
  • Energy for community services (2013) placed the spotlight on the impact that improved energy access can have on health, education and infrastructure services including water and street lighting.
  • The PPEO 2014 provided a revision of the key findings from the three previous editions, updated to reflect the changing global energy debate. This edition was also translated into French, Spanish and Arabic.

Energy Access Ecosystem infographicAlongside this discussion of Total Energy Access, we have also outlined:

  • Our recommendations for how energy access should be defined and measured.
  • Rich new material from focus countries including Peru, Nepal and Kenya in 2012, and Bolivia, Bangladesh and Rwanda in 2013.
  • The Energy Access Ecosystem Index approach which can be used to measure and understand the ‘health’ of a specific country’s energy system, as well as to assess the country’s potential for making rapid progress towards Universal Energy Access. This Index comprises nine indicators across three spheres: policy, financing and capacity.





Continued demand for energy access evidence

There remains a real demand for policy-relevant research and evidence on energy access from a pro-poor perspective. A consultation we embarked on in 2013 asked practitioners and policy-makers about their needs for information, and considered the focus of available publications. This exercise demonstrated to us that there remain clear gaps in credible evidence across certain areas, including:

  • Consumers’ energy access levels, demand and willingness to pay;
  • Business models for energy providers; and
  • Energy markets and enabling environment requirements.


The future of the PPEO series

The forthcoming three editions of the PPEO will help to address these, and other, evidence needs, and will consider what it means to operationalise the Total Energy Access Framework at national levels; looking at pro-poor community and national energy planning (2016), scaling programmes and financing requirements (2017), and systemic and programmatic delivery of energy access at scale (2018).

The PPEO 2016 looks at the energy access needs of a selection of representative communities in Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo, presenting energy planning undertaken with these communities and comparing poor people’s energy priorities with national level strategies. PPEO 2016 highlights that decentralised energy solutions are the least cost option for meeting poor people’s prioritised needs, and helps inform discussions about the appropriate minimum levels of energy access policy-makers should be aiming for, both nationally and within the sustainable development goals..

Practical Action would like to acknowledge support for the PPEO from UK Aid, Mott Foundation and GIZ.

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Poor People's Energy Outlook Series publications


National Energy Access Planning from the Bottom Up

Briefing paper summarising key findings and recommendations from the Poor People's Energy Outlook 2016 report. In this edition of the PPEO, we take a bottom up approach to energy planning. Applying...


Poor People's Energy Outlook 2010

The first PPEO presents the perspective of those living in energy poverty and those for whom energy access has been life changing.


Poor People's Energy Outlook 2012

The 2012 report, 'Energy for earning a living', was designed to act as a catalyst for a movement for change on energy access, and a source of information to support it.


Poor People's Energy Outlook 2013

The third edition of the PPEO series focuses on energy for community services. This report builds on our evidence base and our call for Total Energy Access by focusing on vital community services....


Poor People's Energy Outlook 2014

The 2014 edition of the PPEO looks back at three years of analysis and innovative approaches to defining energy access and addressing energy poverty as presented in previous PPEOs, to re-emphasise...


Poor People's Energy Outlook 2016

The Poor People’s Energy Outlook 2016 provides pioneering new research into energy access planning from the perspective of the energy poor in Bangladesh, Kenya, and Togo. It finds that bottom-up...

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