Sustainable energy

Informing and influencing policies and practices for renewable energy and access to modern energy services.
Children watching a solar-powered television show in the community hall. Photo: Asian Development Bank/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Realising each of the Sustainable Development Goals is dependent on the use of energy, directly or indirectly. At the same time energy consumption and production is the source of two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement all emissions must reduce to zero before the end of the century

The world thus faces the twin development challenges of transitioning to 100% renewable energy to avoid dangerous climate change and ensuring universal access to affordable, reliable modern energy services, to take 2.7 billion people out of extreme energy poverty. At the same time, the consumption of energy will increase to meet the social and economic development aspirations of people in emerging economies. How policy-makers balance this energy trilemma, and in whose interests, is at the core of ODI’s work on sustainable energy.

We conduct high quality applied research and provide practical advice to inform and influence policies and practices for renewable energy and access to modern energy services. This ranges from the macro level, such as energy in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the UNFCCC, to the micro level, the impacts of solar home systems on households. We partner with international organisations, governments and non-governmental organisations, providing robust evidence and analysis to inform their own decision-making and to influence the decisions of others. ODI is a partner in the Sustainable Energy for All People Centred Accelerator.

Key aims

  • inform international and national debate about transitions to renewable energy that are consistent with development goals
  • build the evidence base on the social and economic impacts of access to modern energy services
  • assess effective options that ensure the poorest are not left behind by energy development initiatives