The Fundamentals of Energy Systems for Program Managers


To promote creative solutions to energy problems, improve our development and oversight of projects, and improve coordination with other donors in addressing these issues, USAID will periodically offer this Energy Workshop.

Countries and communities rely on energy to drive human and economic development. Global energy demand is expected to rise 30 percent by 2035, led by economic growth in developing countries. Over the same period, electricity demand will rise 70 percent, and annual greenhouse gas emissions will rise 15 percent—yet nearly 1 billion people will still lack access to electricity.

Power sectors in many developing countries are dominated by inefficient, state-owned power utilities that are unable to recover costs, maintain system assets or invest in new infrastructure to meet growing demand. USAID aims to reduce emissions, support human health, and spur economic growth and business profitability, ultimately creating a virtuous circle that drives more investment in clean energy.

This course introduces program managers to fundamental concepts associated with energy systems (including electricity, gas, hydrocarbon fuels, renewable energy, and energy efficiency) and explains how the scale, cost, and function of energy provision can influence development outcomes. Major topics include understanding the electricity value chain and assessing energy costs; understanding the promise and limits of clean and renewable energies; implications of renewables for grid design and utility regulation; understanding energy sector reform best practices and market development; and review of energy subsidies, best practices in tariff design, the implications of the resource curse, and sovereign wealth funds.

Key Concepts

Energy poverty, energy access, reliability of energy, electricity value chain, levelized cost, cost recovery, clean energy and variable renewable energy, transmission, intermittency, energy sector reform, energy market development, energy subsidies and tariffs. USAID’s approach to infrastructure is more than just bricks and mortar. To ensure investments are economically viable, USAID helps to create sustainable local institutions to finance and manage infrastructure and sound legal and regulatory environments to govern the operation of this infrastructure.

Target Audience

USAID personnel with energy, economic growth, program management and/or infrastructure development responsibilities.


For additional questions, please contact Ellen Dragotto.

Monday, April 6, 2015 - 5:00pm

Last updated: June 01, 2015