4. Great Expectations

Productive Uses Of Energy Off The Grid

This webinar is the 4. part of WISIONS Webinar Series, which aims to promote sustainable decentralized energy solutions in the global South and shed light onto important topics emerging from the ground.

Great expectations abound for the so-called “productive uses of energy”. These uses of energy go well beyond solar lamps and cell phone charging. They aim to fundamentally improve livelihoods for people living beyond the grid by powering computers, agricultural machinery, and more.


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Funders increasingly support energy projects and programmes that use energy productively. The assumption is that using energy for productive uses will enhance social and economic development and help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The productive uses of energy could certainly help to reach these goals, as many examples attest. However, systematic evidence of these outcomes and impacts is still limited and questions remain: Which complementary services are necessary to establish productive uses? Do productive uses of energy contribute to social and economic development? Why do many energy projects fall short to establish productive activities? Is there a tipping point for the amount of energy that will have the greatest impact? Which “productive” activities should be supported, and who will benefit? In this webinar we have discussed these important questions and also given an overview of the current state of evidence on productive uses of energy and learned about pitfalls and successes along the way to improving livelihoods across the Global South.


David Lecoque
Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE)
Pooja Sharma
Practical Action
Dr. Julia Terrapon-Pfaff
Wuppertal Institute


Molly Hurley-Depret

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