Research into energy poverty

In 2013 the work of the Energy (ENE) Program on energy poverty and access to clean modern forms of energy examined the broader linkages between energy services and economic development.

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According to a 2012 report on access to modern energy, co-authored by IIASA scientists, 1.4 billion people – one in five globally – lack electricity to light their homes or conduct business.

In 2013 Energy (ENE) Program researcher and postdoctoral fellow Narasimha Rao for the first time quantified the income losses to small-scale enterprises in India from poor electricity service. [1]

In related work ENE explored the relationship between modern energy access and low-carbon pathways for developing countries. This research relates basic human needs and public services to energy, and consequently to greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries.

As part of this research, ENE is developing an analytical framework to quantify the energy needed to build infrastructure that provides decent living standards in different regions under alternate future technology pathways. This framework will be critical to helping developing country’ policymakers identify where energy investments have the greatest benefit, and will allow them to exploit opportunities for climate co-benefits.

ENE researchers Shonali Pachauri and Narasimha Rao have further contributed to the development of sustainability indicators for rural areas, which relates energy poverty to other environmental impacts besides climate change [2].


1] Rao, ND (2013). Does (better) Electricity Supply Boost Household Enterprise Income in India? Energy Policy, 57(532-541), doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2013.02.025.
[2] Pachauri, S, Rao, N D (2013). Gender impacts and determinants of energy poverty: are we asking the right questions? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 5(2):205-215, doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2013.04.006.

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Last edited: 22 May 2014


Shonali Pachauri

Acting Program Director:Senior Research Scholar

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