The energy poor (EP) encompass between 1.25 billion and 3 billion people who do not have access to beneficial energy for their cooking, illumination, or mechanical needs. Their lives are disfigured by ill health, poverty, lack of education, and underdevelopment. The universally accepted norm of sustainable development (SD) demands that the rest of the world, spearheaded by the rich nations, address the plight of the EP. In a welcome response, the United Nations (UN) has recently embraced the need for universal access to electricity and declared 2012 the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All” with a focus on providing electricity. Although access to electricity must remain the ultimate objective, the daunting additional costs of electricity, and the time taken to do so—realistically 30 years—will shunt the EP into limbo unless interim measures are also taken. Beneficial energy based on appropriate sustainable energy technologies (ASETs) can provide such intermediate energy. ASETs bridge the gap between capital-intensive electricity and the traditional subsistence technologies of the EP. ASETs demand serious consideration.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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