Our easy access to energy stands in stark contrast to the daily struggle experienced by billions. These people lack access to any kind of modern energy and are also the poorest on the planet. They rely on archaic fuels, such as firewood, kerosene, and charcoal, to provide them with heat, light, and power — fuels which are expensive, harmful to their health, hugely time consuming to obtain, and result in greenhouse gas emissions. Families can spend hours a day collecting firewood, and up to 30% of their household income purchasing these fuels which often barely meet their basic needs. In addition, indoor air pollution from these fuels kills more people than Malaria every year and a recent World Health Organization report noted the use of kerosene in a household was equivalent to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. .
The International Energy Agency acknowledged that lack of access to energy is an important reason the poor continue to be poor when it estimated that if poverty is to be halved by 2015 energy will need to be extended to an additional 700 million people.
That’s a lot of people! So how are we going to reach them?