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 that 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 energy access narrative. As a result of the PPEO’s awareness-raising of energy poverty and access issues, Practical Action co-designed the SEforAll Global Tracking Framework which is now the global standard in measuring levels of energy access.

  • This progressive report moves beyond seeing energy as an access issue to a service-based definition focusing on end-uses of energy to achieve real impacts. (Ben Garside, IIED)
  • 1

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

  • The PPEO 2010 outlines the range of energy services that people need in their homes (lighting, cooking, etc.), proposing minimum standards for each of these.
  • The PPEO 2012 addresses the energy services needed across a range of productive activities to earn a living, including agriculture and micro and small-scale enterprises.
  • The PPEO 2013 places the spotlight on the impact that improved energy access can have on community facilities, including health, education and infrastructure services such as water and street lighting.
  • The PPEO 2014 provides 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.
  • The PPEO 2016 explores national energy access planning from the bottom up; creating energy access plans for communities in Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo, based on their expressed priorities and needs. This edition will soon be translated into French and Spanish. 

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 editions of the PPEO will build on these evidence gaps, including what it means to deliver pro-poor community and national energy planning (2016), by exploring how to finance energy access plans (2017), and the systemic and programmatic delivery of energy access at scale (2018). Practical Action would like to acknowledge support for the PPEO from UK Aid, Mott Foundation and GIZ.

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...

We use cookies to provide a consistent user experience and analyse how to improve our sites Our cookie policy