A research collaboration with ESRC-funded researchers has increased access to alternative energy in developing nations and improved the lives of 250,000 people.


  • By supporting a more resilient and accessible bioenergy industry, PISCES (Policy Innovation Systems for Clean Energy Security) has enriched the livelihoods of up to 250,000 people in Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
  • PISCES enabled the distribution and use of 30,000 gasifier stoves in Tanzania by supporting design and production of a cleaner and more efficient stove technology.
  • The initiative reached an estimated 180,000 people - directly contributing to reducing the country’s smoke-related health problems.
  • PISCES created bioenergy Policy Working Groups in Kenya and Tanzania. The Kenyan Policy Working Group played a key role in the writing of the National Biofuel Policy, which has since been integrated into the draft Kenya Energy Policy.
  • Research evidence from PISCES has since fed into new research on solar energy markets in India and sub-Saharan Africa.

About the research

One of the major constraints to global development and poverty alleviation is limited access to cheap, sustainable energy. An estimated three billion people will still be cooking with traditional fuels and appliances in 2030 if current trends continue, with over 30 million people dying due to smoke-related diseases. Better access to alternative energy systems such as cleaner and more efficient stoves, purpose-grown biofuels or solar technologies can improve health and livelihoods for the poorest people.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh – funded by the ESRC, the Department for International Development (DFID), the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Scottish Government – have explored ways of improving the accessibility, efficiency and use of alternative energy systems in developing nations across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

As part of DFID's PISCES initiative the researchers collaborated with colleagues from Kenya, India, Sri Lanka and Tanzania, focusing on sustainable bioenergy in developing countries. Working with a mix of organisations including international non-governmental organisations, think tanks and universities, PISCES sought to identify the crucial success factors for introducing new energy technologies. Bioenergy Policy Working Groups were also set up in the participating countries to support the development of bioenergy policy initiatives.

The research showed that close relationships between researchers, entrepreneurs and local consumers are crucial to turn research findings and local knowledge into effective products and services, as well as to create favourable markets for sustainable energy.