International Handbook of Energy Security
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International Handbook of Energy Security

Edited by Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta

This Handbook brings together energy security experts to explore the implications of framing the energy debate in security terms, both in respect of the governance of energy systems and the practices associated with energy security.
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Chapter 19: Energy poverty: access, health and welfare

Subhes C. Bhattacharyya


The United Nation’s decision to declare 2012 as the ‘International Year of Sustainable Energy for All’ has once again caught global attention on sustainable energy in general and energy poverty in particular. Lack of access to clean or modern energy and an inability to use the desired energy when required tends to adversely influence the development prospects of the population and impose social burdens in terms of adverse health effects and welfare losses. Moreover, sustainability of energy provision and energy supply security implications of energy poverty have received limited attention in the past. While attempts are being made to extend basic energy services, the supply is often erratic and limited and does not ensure long-term needs, thereby causing concerns about a reliable supply. There is also the concern for future resource implications of enhanced energy access. This chapter reviews energy poverty, discusses the health and welfare implications of energy poverty and elaborates on the sustainability and energy security dimensions. The chapter is organised as follows: the next section presents the definition of energy poverty and elaborates on the nature of the problem. The third section discusses the incidence of energy poverty, while section four presents the health and welfare implications of energy poverty. Finally, the fifth section considers the remedial measures and the last section presents the concluding remarks.

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