The principle of ‘leave no-one behind’ is inherent to the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG 7 on ensuring access for all to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services, by 2030. This means that even the poorest and most disadvantaged people should have access to modern energy services. It also means addressing the affordability barrier for very poor people. Consumer subsidies are one way to do this, but they have significant shortcomings. Social assistance mechanisms may be another way, but their effectiveness and impact on the delivery of energy access to poor households is little understood.
To understand how such mechanisms have been used, a literature review was undertaken in August and September 2016 and updated in March 2018. This document, Energy Safety Nets: A literature review, assesses the evidence available on the experience of using social assistance to enable poor people in developing countries to access modern energy services.