What is Energy Poverty?
Updated: Nov 3, 2021
Written By: Maya Ardon
"Energy poverty is present everywhere to an extent, but it is significantly more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia"
Energy poverty is an important concept in development, as increased energy consumption is linked to economic growth (González-Eguino, 2015). Because poverty is a difficult concept to define, energy poverty lacks a single agreed-upon definition as well, but many definitions revolve around insufficient access to energy to meet basic needs. For example, the Asian Development Bank defines energy poverty as “the absence of sufficient choice in accessing adequate, affordable, reliable, high-quality, safe and environmentally benign energy services to support economic and human development” (Sovacool, 2012). Lack of access to energy directly affects not only services such as cooking and heating, but education, health, and political empowerment as well.
As can be expected, energy consumption worldwide reflects overall patterns in economic inequality. Energy poverty is present everywhere to an extent, but it is significantly more prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In Latin America, the Middle East, and North Africa, it affects a small proportion of the population, while elsewhere, it is a concern only in very remote, rural regions (González-Eguino, 2015).
González-Eguino, M. (2015). Energy poverty: An overview. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 47, 377–385. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2015.03.013
Sovacool, B. K. (2012). The Political Economy of Energy Poverty: A Review of Key Challenges. Energy for Sustainable Development, 16(3), 272–282. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esd.2012.05.006