Measuring Energy Poverty: Focusing on What Matters

OPHI Working Papers

The provision of modern energy services is recognised as a critical foundation for sustainable development, and is central to the everyday lives of people. Effective policies to dramatically expand modern energy access need to be grounded in a robust information-base. Metrics that can be used for comparative purposes and to track progress towards targets therefore represent an essential support tool. This paper reviews the relevant literature, and discusses the adequacy and applicability of existing instruments to measure energy poverty. Drawing on those insights, it proposes a new composite index to measure energy poverty. Both the associated methodology and initial results for several African countries are discussed. Whereas most existing indicators and composite indices focus on assessing the access to energy, or the degree of development related to energy, our new index – the Multidimensional Energy Poverty Index (MEPI) – focuses on the deprivation of access to modern energy services. It captures both the incidence and intensity of energy poverty, and provides a new tool to support policymaking. For an interactive and visual view of the data behind the paper, take a look at the energy poverty visualisation platform. 

Citation: Nussbaumer, P.,  Bazilian, M., Modi, V. and Yumkella, K.K. (2011). 'Measuring energy poverty: Focusing on what matters', OPHI Working Papers 42, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), University of Oxford.

This paper is also published in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2012, Vol. 16(1), pp. 231–243.

Energy poverty, composite index, measuring and reporting, multidimensional poverty, MEPI, Multidimensional Energy Poverty Index

Patrick Nussbaumer, Morgan Bazilian, Vijay Modi and Kandeh K. Yumkella
Series Name
OPHI Working Papers
Publication date
JEL Codes
C81, I32
Publication Number
WP 42