This paper provides an overview of the debate on energy access and development, and argues that despite some progress in enhancing energy access, the programmes promoting energy access are neither sustainable nor adequately contributing to development. The paper substantiates this argument by considering the experience of energy access and by performing a simple multi-dimensional sustainability analysis. There has been a disproportionate emphasis on electrification in the past, which can neither resolve the energy access problem nor address the sustainable development issue. Ensuring access to clean energies to meet the demand for cooking and heating energy and providing economically viable and affordable options remains the greatest challenge. The paper suggests that a rebalancing of approaches to energy access provision is required to ensure their sustainability.