Development is often linked with access to plentiful, reliable energy sources. On the macro level abundant energy resources and robust infrastructure encourages foreign investment and growth in industry and exports; whereas on a more local level it facilitates growth in local economies and improves the quality of life for citizens.

The developed world has become used to readily available affordable energy, however the reality for many in the developing world is far different. 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity and fuel poverty is the norm rather than the exception.

Energy impacts upon all aspects of life. Mechanised transport is ultimately driven by a primary energy source, homes are heated and lit, water pumped and dinners cooked. Access to energy is an enabler for many developmental goals. The application of appropriate, replenishable and environmentally sound energy sources and technologies should be a pillar of long term poverty alleviation strategies.

“Energy is central to sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts. It affects all aspects of development -- social, economic, and environmental -- including livelihoods, access to water, agricultural productivity, health, population levels, education, and gender-related issues. None of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) can be met without major improvement in the quality and quantity of energy services in developing countries.” United Nations Development Program.

There is incredible energy inequality, 80% of the worlds primary energy resources are consumed by 20% of the population. The environmental consequences of our addiction to energy intensive industry and unsustainable energy sources are likely to be severe and felt most poignantly by the worlds poorest. Clearly, this irresponsible approach to energy use cannot be replicated in the developing world where sustainability as well as security of energy supply must be pursued.

Energy and energy technologies are often imported and primary resources often exploited by international concerns, leading to a net cashflow out of a developing nation’s economy and dependence upon foreign investment and expertise. Energy self sufficiency should be an aspiration and technologies, even if not readily obtainable within a country, should be appropriate to the needs of the people and supportable with local knowledge and expertise.

Simple solutions can bring significant benefits.

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