The study of energy poverty is difficult because measuring the degree of access to modern energy is difficult. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there were detailed, representative, and freely available data on energy poverty?

Even in countries like India, where data on rural households is generally available, there are very few detailed and representative data sets on energy poverty. Census and National Sample Survey data are representative of the population, but they contain few details on energy access. More detailed surveys typically focus on small areas or their sampling fails to be representative.

To relax the data constraints that have impeded social science research on energy poverty, I and my collaborators are delighted to introduce ACCESS, a freely available data set on energy poverty in rural India.

The ACCESS data set contains detailed information on energy for 8,565 households from 714 villages across six states of India (Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, and West Bengal). The sampling is conducted such that the data are representative of rural areas in the six states, and we have also validated the representativeness with comparisons to recent household data from the National Sample Survey of India. Village identifiers from the 2011 Census of India are included.

Besides socio-economic characteristics and comprehensive modules on access to electricity and cooking fuels, the data set also contains information about subjective satisfaction and policy preferences. The data set also contains details on the use of decentralized energy technologies, such as solar power and efficient cook stoves.

The data set is described in a recent Nature Energy study (gated content) and an earlier report on rural energy access published by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water.

Besides studies of energy access, the data can be used for power analysis and as a baseline for field experiments.

Anyone can use the data for any non-commercial purposes, provided you cite the originaL NE study:

Aklin, Michaël, Chao-yo Cheng, Johannes Urpelainen, Karthik Ganesan, and Abhishek Jain. 2016. “Factors Affecting Household Satisfaction with Electricity Supply in Rural India.” Nature Energy 1, Article number: 16170. DOI: 10.1038/nenergy.2016.170. (

Energy poverty is one of today’s great global challenges and a key component of sustainable development, so we need all hands on deck. Making ACCESS freely available to anyone is but one step in the right direction.

If anyone’s interested in discussing new ideas on what to do with the data, what kind of data we should collect next, and – most importantly – how we can make progress in ending energy poverty in a sustainable fashion, please get in touch.