Energy and Poverty Research Group

Energy Poverty

Modern, clean and efficient energy services are crucial for human well-being and facilitating social and economic development, attaining shared prosperity and achieving social justice. Energy poverty denies billions of people in the developing world access to these services that sustain modern society. Almost 3 billion people rely on biomass for cooking and heating, and 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity. Many times this number lack reliable or affordable electricity.

These vast populations without access to clean fuels use biomass in the form of fuel wood, agricultural and animal waste to meet their daily cooking and heating requirements. The endless cycle of gathering and burning biomass in homes causes significant damage to the environment, triggers widespread harm to human health and results in serious social deprivation, especially among women and children.

Access to the enhanced quality, security and affordability of modern energy is one of the critical enablers of the transformation from poverty to productive, socially and environmentally sustainable livelihoods. Providing energy solutions that are reliable, affordable and sustainable will have far reaching implications and can help bring communities and societies out of impoverishment. The benefits of achieving universal access to the energy services that sustain modern life are broad and transformational. Ultimately, integrated technical, financial, business, community and capacity building models must be developed and used in conjunction with successful case studies to provide guidance on ways to effectively overcome region-specific barriers to modern energy services.

Knowledge for a better world

A deep collaboration has been established with world-class universities in partnership with private-sector organisations and local institutions to demonstrate the link between sustainable energy and improved social, health, environment and livelihood outcomes.

With an initial focus on India, this transdisciplinary, systems-based approach is designed to allow translation to other regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Pacific Island Countries and remote indigenous communities within Australia.



Energy & Environment, Population Wellbeing, and Rural Health

Leveraging existing global partnerships to bring together multi-disciplinary research capability within the initial context of a complex, localised region

A partnership initiated by Professor Gautam Yadama from Washington University in St Louis, UQ is proud to join WUSTL, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) in a collaboration to examine linkages between energy access and poverty alleviation and provide a framework for delivering sustainable energy systems to impoverished communities.

The ultimate vision of ENPOWERH is to engender positive social, environmental and health outcomes that are vital for sustainable and productive livelihoods in rural communities in the developing world. The two signature features of this initiative are its mutually reinforcing emphasis on a place-based and trans-disciplinary, systems-based approach to research, education and problem solving.

Working with selected district governments and local organisations in India the research team will establish reference sites to demonstrate the link between sustainable energy and improved social, health, environment and livelihood outcomes. Unlike area studies, this provides opportunities for the research team to generate systematic research and engage in dissemination and implementation of programs and interventions. This approach will foster new research and learning environments that transcend disciplines and can be translated to other regions.


In just over one year, UQ has developed a unique and niche position within this field. By the end of 2017, we aim for a mix of externally sourced demonstration capital and operational funds to entirely fund the program.

There is a clear opportunity for government and private sector partners to exhibit global leadership and contribute to this growing expertise. We invite expressions of interest to partner with us, either through project-specific funding, in-kind support or as part of our wider consortium.

learning | discovery | engagement | global reach
Within UQ, the EPRG is supported by the Faculties of Engineering, Architecture & Information Technology (EAIT), Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS), Health and Behavioural Sciences (HBS), Science (SCI), the UQ Dow Centre for Sustainable Engineering Innovation, and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).
The group is proud to join Washington University in St Louis (WUSTL), the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES) in the ENPOWERH global partnership.
Photographs for "Fires, Fuel, and the Fate of 3 Billion: The State of the Energy Impoverished" were taken by Mark Katzman, Oxford University Press.
Read more about our Energy and Poverty Research Group experts:

EPRG Academic Associates

EPRG Research Associates

EPRG Research Fellows