Factual Background

Worldwide, almost 3 billion people have little or no access to modern energy resources for cooking, heating, water sanitation, illumination, transportation, or basic mechanical needs. In response, the UN has launched a Global Campaign for Universal Energy Access and has designated 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.”

Energy access has generally been equated with access to electricity, and there is no doubt that electricity is the ultimate goal of energy access. However, the daunting costs and time necessary to “leapfrog” from the poverty induced lack of modern technology to electricity, renders it the final goal, but not necessarily the first step in accessing beneficial energy.

There are intermediate steps that will prepare the way for electricity. These are simple and inexpensive, yet largely ignored, technologies that already exist to deliver some of the clean and sustainable energy needed by the world’s urban and rural energy poor. For example, household indoor air pollution created by burning biomass can be reduced with affordable clean fuel technology solutions or clean combustion technologies such as cookstoves. Illumination provided by kerosene can be replaced by photovoltaic lights and decentralized mini grids based on solar, wind, and biomass-generated electricity. Not only do these solutions promote increased health and economic development, but many of them also contribute to addressing the issue of climate change. We call these solutions “Appropriate Sustainable Energy Technologies” (ASETs).

ASETs alone cannot extract a country from poverty, but they can play a critical role in boosting economic development and improving the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of the energy poor. Some ASETs – such as improved cookstoves, water filters, solar-charged illumination, and better mechanical and agricultural technologies – are already being distributed by a constellation of projects around the world. However, this distribution is not at the scale required.


The Partnership for the Relief of Energy Poverty (PREP) seeks to promote collaboration among multiple stakeholders concerning the design, fabrication, deployment, and use of ASETs in order to enhance efforts towards achieving the important goals articulated by the UN.

PREP has identified four priority areas where the deployment of ASETs will most facilitate access to energy. They are:

  • Cooking and Heating (includes clean fuels and insulation)
  • Water Access and Sanitation
  • Illumination
  • Motive Energy (includes agricultural needs, transportation, and basic mechanical energy)

Steering Committee:
The Steering Committee, made up of volunteers representing different interests and entities, will focus on identifying and recruiting key stakeholders and securing public and private funding for the four ASET Alliances. The Steering Committee will also be responsible for addressing the role of regulations and governments as they pertain to ASET deployment and adoption in various locations. It will work towards publicizing the need for ASETs, and will also be responsible for promoting synergies, integration, and cross-pollination between the four ASET Alliances.

Cooking & Heating Alliance:
The Cooking & Heating Alliance will form part of and be an active partner in the Global Alliance for Cookstoves by striving to adapt and extend the solutions and strategies employed by the Global Alliance for Cookstoves to achieve advancement in providing ASETs for cooking. These solutions and strategies, where replicable, will also be used as a model for water access and sanitation, illumination, and motive energy.

Water Access & Sanitation, Illumination, and Motive Energy Alliances:
Each of these three ASET Alliances will represent a hitherto absent collaboration among stakeholders in the design, fabrication, funding, marketing, deployment, and adoption of ASETs in each particular priority area. These Alliances will not be restricted to trade and commercial groups, and will include other sectors of civil society such as faith-based entities, NGOs, and philanthropic foundations that will promote overall cooperation in each area. Each ASET Alliance will work to promote the exchange of technical information and enhance collaboration between multiple stakeholders. This work will also involve analyzing the best practices for each ASET and the promulgation of voluntary universal quality standards and certification procedures for ASETs. While quality standards can be universal, any design standards that are developed will need to be localized. Each ASET Alliance will be responsible for issuing practical analysis papers annually to record what has been learned and what can be improved.

Action Taken

Women’s Energy Justice Network (WEJN)
This project, funded by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), dealt with the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), and microfinance for appropriate and sustainable energy technology projects in India. It has resulted in practical steps to advance better financing, including the creation of an online database tracking financing options for Appropriate Sustainable Energy Technologies (ASETs) through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), voluntary carbon markets, and micro-finance.

However, WEJN revealed that the high potential of CDM to contribute to the sustainable development of the energy poor and the empowerment of women, is almost negated by the opportunity costs of validation, monitoring, and verification required by traditional CDM. Consequently they have been unable to attract significant private CDM investors.

WEJN examined two ways of overcoming this challenge. One is a Programme of Activities (PoA) or Programmatic CDMs (pCDMs), where emission reductions are achieved and executed over a period of time.  The second is “bundling” where each activity is undertaken independently but is bundled together in order to reduce CDM transaction costs.   Both pCDMs  and bundling  call for coordinating organizations, whether government, private or voluntary, that can bring together the various entities to successfully create  and implement pCDMs or bundling. PREP will perform this function.

Research & Information
CEES Researchers are presently researching and collecting information about other international industrial trade groups and collaboration networks engaged in a variety of modern high technology manufacturing enterprises. The researchers are garnering knowledge about this industry to apply to  the structure and future of PREP. The primary purpose of this research is to identify standardization or certification processes that could be applied to ASETs.

A. Standards.  Standards promote safety, reliability, productivity, and efficiency in almost every industry that relies on engineering components or equipment. Practically, standards consist of a voluntary set of rules for ensuring quality, set by a recognized standardization body. Technical standards involve technical definitions and specifications for products and processes. Nationally and internationally standards for goods and services have become pivotal to business, markets and trade of all descriptions ranging from electronics to timber. Vendors and end users depend on such standards because they vouch for the  quality of a product or service. Standardization brings important benefits to business including a solid foundation upon which to develop new technologies and an opportunity to share and enhance existing practices. Standardization plays an important role not only in promoting more business but in advancing policy initiatives and understanding the place of regulation.

B. Certification. Product certification by independent entities means that a product has passed performance and quality assurance tests or met specific requirements and standards.  The  electronics, timber, forestry, fishery, sanitation, medical, organic, green and renewable energy industries all have respected independent certification programs.

CEES researchers are also researching and collecting information about voluntary groups and trade associations dealing with ASETs (whether in design, manufacture, deployment, or adoption) in an attempt to discover if:

  • They participate in public relations activities such as advertising, education, political donations, lobbying, organizing conferences, publishing, networking, charitable events, and offering classes or educational materials.
  • There are any barriers that are currently keeping these groups from collaborating to produce standards and certification.

 Next Steps

A Steering Committee and the Four Alliances need to be established. The Cooking and Heating alliance will form part of the Global Alliance for Cookstoves. The framework and criteria outlined below uses a hypothetical or thought experiment to illuminate the initial creation of strategic alliances in Water Access and Sanitation, Illumination and Motive Energy. The emerging framework and criteria is being used by CEES to convene the initial strategic alliances and set a preliminary agenda for each alliance along with the Steering Committee. Once established, each alliance will design and forge its own organizational structure and function as an autonomous entity within the CEES umbrella. CEES will then continue to serve as a secretariat for all. The same will apply to the Steering Committee.

Identifying Stakeholders
This hypothetical suggests many lessons. First, it is critical for PREP to identify all theStakeholders(listed above) dealing with the entire gamut of design, fabrication, funding, marketing, deployment, and adoption of ASETs in each alliance.

Understanding the Product Matrix of ASETs
Second, it is equally necessary to understand and flag the lifecycle of an ASET from its conception, through design and manufacture, to marketing, service, impacts both positive and negative, and its final disposal.  Where possible this requires tracking and tracing the product chain of each ASET in a manner that will enable CEES analysts to enumerate, describe what is involved, and offer private and public investors a better understanding of every significant link.

Creation of a PREP Website
It is necessary to develop an interactive PREP website containing information referred to above along with other information provided by foundational research and information gathering. This website will incorporate the website of Women’s Energy Justice Network, as well as an ASET database where the ASETs included have been subjected to best engineering and best management practices. It will, therefore, contain currently unavailable information and track records for various types of ASETs.

Demonstrating the Importance of Collaboration
There is much that could mutually benefit Stakeholders # 3, #10 and #25. They could join together to create better prospects for private and public investors as well as collaborate to create better designs, fabrication, and funding, while undertaking better marketing. This could result in widespread deployment and adoption of cookstoves. Specifically, they could join to locate better suppliers of inner combustion chambers or better marketing across Eurabia. Moreover, the importance of standards and certification of inner combustion chambers and chimneys would help them to scale up the deployment of cookstoves.

Communicating with Stakeholders
It is necessary for CEES to communicate with all relevant stakeholders and share with them the benefits of more collaboration and of forming alliances.

Convening Each Alliance
Based on their research, information gathering, communication, and responses received, CEES analysts will now be able to invite key Stakeholders to an initial strategic convening for the purposes of establishing each Alliance.

Creating the Alliance
Each convened strategic body will now be in a position to determine how they should proceed as well as what structure, form, procedures and actions the new alliance created by them will take. It is perfectly conceivable that the goals, objectives, and actions taken by each Alliance could be different from the others. Each Alliance will be responsible for generating its own funding. The important PREP Steering Committee will also need to be established.  CEES will continue to operate as a Secretariat and repository of information.

Maintaining the CEES Secretariat
It is important that CEES continue to play a role in servicing the Alliances by generating information about the ongoing research and operations of the other Alliances through web sites, seminars and media events. It will focus on different aspects of PREP in the annual Energy Justice Conference, as well as generating policy and position papers and facilitating other publications about PREP.

Promoting Viable Business Enterprises
Once established, a PREP alliance faces the crucial question of how to promote viable business enterprises that design, manufacture, market, and deploy ASETs in developing countries. This calls for entrepreneurship.   Entrepreneurs in developing countries, as well as those in developed countries who wish to set up their enterprises in developing countries, face a host of daunting economic, political and regulatory risks not encountered in developed countries.