Increased focus has been placed on the issues of energy access and energy poverty over the last number of years, most notably indicated by the United Nations (UN) declaring 2012 as the “International Year of Sustainable Energy for All”. Although attention in these topics has increased, incorrect assumptions and misunderstandings still arise in both the literature and dialogues. Access to energy does not only include electricity, does not only include cook stoves, but must include access to all types of energy that form the overall energy system. This paper chooses to examine this energy system using a typology that breaks it into 3 primary energy subsystems: heat energy, electricity and transportation. Describing the global energy system using these three subsystems provides a way to articulate the differences and similarities for each system’s required investments needs by the private and public sectors.