The development of energy services for the 40% of the world’s population currently living in energy poverty is a challenging design problem. There are competing and often conflicting objectives between stakeholders from global to user viewpoints, and the confounding effects of real-world performance, rebound, and stacking of technologies makes the determination of optimal strategies for off-grid village energy complicated. Yet there are holistic and lasting solutions that can adequately address the technical, social, economic, and environmental constraints and satisfy the goals of all stakeholders. These solutions can be better identified by systematically considering five major qualitative and quantitative outcomes including 1) energy access and efficiency, 2) climate benefits, 3) health impacts, 4) upfront and recurring economic and opportunity costs, and 5) quality of life for the user in terms of several metrics. Beginning with a comprehensive survey of energy uses in a village and current and potential technological options to meet those needs, this article proposes a methodology to identify and quantify these five outcomes for various intervention scenarios. These evaluations can provide a better understanding of the constraints, trade-offs, sensitivity to various factors, and conditions under which certain designs are appropriate for the village energy system. Ultimately a balance of all five objectives is most likely to result in equitable, user-driven, and sustainable solutions.

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