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Energy Poverty

A lack of access to modern energy services such as household access to electricity and clean cooking facilities

"Energy poverty is a problem with a solution. It is not a quick or easy solution, but one where our industry is well positioned to help."
— Sami Alnuaim, Saudi Aramco

The modern world runs on energy. It is used to cook, heat homes, charge electronics and light cities. Because we always have access to energy we often take it for granted.There are 1 billion people in the world that do not have access to energy and 3 billion that their well-being is negatively affected by a low energy consumption, use of dirty or polluting fuels and excessive time spent collecting fuel to meet basic needs.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), for people in developing countries, having access to energy is fundamental to reducing poverty and improving health, increasing productivity, enhancing competitiveness and promoting economic growth.

The IEA also says the cost of providing universal access to energy by 2030 would require annual investment of $35 billion. 

Deadly Pollution

Black carbon - emitted by gas and diesel engines and released through the burning of wood, peat charcoal, and other solid fuels - is the second most significant contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide. The inefficient burning of solid fuels on an open fire or traditional stove indoors creates a dangerous cocktail of hundreds of pollutants, primarily carbon monoxide and small particles, but also nitrogen oxides, benzene, butadiene, formaldehyde, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and many other health-damaging chemicals.

Stongest felt in Africa, 80 percent of people use some form of wood fuel as their primary source of domestic energy. In addition to damaging the environment by contributing to the rapid shrinking of Africa’s rainforests and woodlands, exposure to household air pollution, especially smoke from cooking fires, causes 3.8 million premature deaths each year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 98,000 Nigerian women die each year from the use of firewood, with thousands more at risk of severe health problems.

Switch Energy Alliance

Switch Energy Alliance (SEA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to inspiring an energy-educated future that is objective, nonpartisan, and sensible. SEA's global video- and web-based approach engages students and general viewers in a positive conversation to work collaboratively on energy challenges. The organization reaches millions of people of all ages where they live and learn: online, in classrooms, in professional training and in museums.

SEA has released its latest film, Switch On, about energy access in the developing world. The film addresses the issue of energy poverty and shows first hand how it effects 1 billion people. Switch On is the sequel to Switch the film that explores the world’s leading energy sites, from coal to solar, oil to biofuels and gets straight answers from the international leaders driving energy today.

"Switch On" film trailer. Switch Energy Alliance,

Articles about energy poverty:

How the energy industry is helping combat energy poverty: