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Energy access can unlock the socio-economic potential of developing regions – however, access alone is not enough. Policy makers in developing countries need to consider bundling additional interventions with energy access interventions to enable breaking the vicious cycle of poverty.

Not all areas are equally fortunate in terms of socio-economic potential. According to World Bank data on electric power consumption (kWh per capita) in 2014, Australia’s average household energy consumption stood at 10,071 kWh per year, significantly higher than Togo’s 151 kWh and Nepal’s 143 kWh during the same period. Low disposable incomes mean that households in developing regions are limited to use energy sources that only satisfy their immediate needs. For example, the average solar home capacity in Nepal from 2000 to 2015 was 24watt, compared to 9.5kW1 in Australia.

Therefore, the challenge lies in increasing energy demand while ensuring energy access, thereby enabling households and communities to enhance their well-being. To address this, governments should adopt a two-pronged approach, one that we have termed Energy+ or E+ (‘energy plus’). Energy+ aims to combine energy access plus additional interventions, empowering communities to access additional services and improve their overall well-being. For example, E+ could include supplying equipment like dairy machines or laboratory equipment alongside energy access programs such as micro-hydro plants (MHP). E+ should prioritise providing the necessary energy to areas where economic development is hindered by energy supply limitations.

We aim to research and evaluate E+ interventions (like providing subsidies for electric farm machine PLUS a micro hydro power plant), to examine their potential to improve individual welfare of householders as well as enable households to tap into additional opportunities from gaining access to energy.

There are multiple areas that would also benefit more from improved energy access, for example tourist sites and trekking routes in the Himalaya region. Ensuring energy access to these areas means they can value add their services and attract more business. Energy+ not only supports communities to meet their basic capacity needs, but also to fulfil and expand the potential for additional business demand. Therefore, ensuring energy access can complement other development and environmental goals.   

Learn more about what we are doing on Energy+ and potential projects for collaboration.