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Energy, poverty and development: Current and recent projects

  • Transforming Energy Access – Skills and Expertise Development

    Client
    UK Department for International Development (DfID)

    Time-frame
    From June 2017 to December 2021

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot (Project lead)
    Louise Tait
    Mark Borchers
    Bothwell Batidzirai
    Norman Mathebula

    Short description of research
    The project is up to £65 million over five years, to support early stage testing and scale up of innovative technologies and business models that will accelerate access to affordable, clean energy services for poor households and enterprises, especially in Africa. The programme will include: i) partnership with Shell Foundation, enabling support to another 30+ early stage private sector innovations. ii) Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst to stimulate technology innovation by UK enterprises; iii) build other strategic clean energy innovation partnerships; (iv) skills and expertise development. To support early stage testing and scale up of innovative technologies and business models that will accelerate access to affordable, clean energy services for poor households and enterprises, especially in Africa.

    Under the TEA programme, the ERC leads the Skill and Expertise Development (SED) component. The SED component sets out to identify initiatives and institutions that can support building the skills and expertise required to achieve and sustain energy access scale-up. This includes address local research and innovation capacity needs, professional development and vocational skills, and design a programme of support.

    This research programme consists of a consortium including the Energy Research Centre, The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI), Energy 4 Impact and the Carbon Trust.

    Website:

    https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-1-204867

  • Energy innovation for low-cost housing in India and South Africa: strategies for inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional dialogue

    Client
    British Academy, in collaboration with the Cambridge University and the Indian Institute of Human Settlements.

    Time-frame
    From January 2018 to July 2019

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot

    This research explores how low-income communities, private energy entrepreneurs, and government (at various scales) work in contestation and collaboration to devise and deliver affordable domestic energy that meets the long -term needs and aspirations of low-income households in two rapidly urbanising cities, Bangalore (India) and Cape Town (South Africa). The primary focus is on the role of the three key stakeholders, investigating how government and industry plan and implement energy innovation in government subsidised housing, and the role of low-income households' needs and aspirations in this process. The research has two overarching aims: firstly, to implement an inter-disciplinary approach that delivers learning across the physical and social sciences; and secondly, to propose strategies that enable divergent stakeholders and institutions to work collaboratively in producing and implementing innovative energy solutions that are technically-, financially- and culturally-appropriate for government subsidised housing (in terms of both people and product).

    Website: http://www.energia.org/research/gender-energy-research-programme/research-area-2-productive-uses-of-energy/

  • Urban transformation in South Africa through co-designing energy services provision pathways

    Client
    National Research Foundation/ Economic and Social Research Council’s Newton Fund Programme.

    Time-frame
    From March 2016 to March 2019

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot
    Melissa Kerim-Dikeni (PhD researcher)

    Problem statement
    Cities in South Africa are notable for their central role in the governance of energy. Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to serve as electricity distributors and are responsible for maintaining infrastructure, providing new connections and setting minimum service level standards as well as pricing and subsidies levels for poor consumers. Therefore, municipalities have become major actors in urban energy infrastructures. Nonetheless, systemic change is hampered by: a.) the lack of integrated energy strategies; b.) the declining performance of energy supply networks in South Africa; c.) the high carbon intensity of South Africa’s energy supply, at a time when South Africa is actively seeking to decarbonize the economy; d.) a stalled level of electrification in certain poor urban areas in South African cities; and e.) the continued prevalence of energy poverty, even in grid-connected South African urban households. A key issue is the continued prevalence of a focus on energy supply, as opposed to the broader and more complex notion of energy services.

    It is clear that municipal processes and systems will have to change in order for energy transitions to occur. This project investigates the dynamics and co-evolution of municipal processes so as to create pathways to new, greener and fairer urban energy configurations. The project establishes a dialogue between work on socio-technical transitions and on energy geographies to analyze and identify energy transition pathways towards municipal-scale energy services regimes. The project’s embeddedness in ongoing urban energy transition work will provide an evidence-base for co-designing pathways for energy services provision in South Africa’s cities, alongside exploring opportunities in new energy configurations for transformations to urban green economies.

    This research project consists of SA research partners (the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre) and UK partners (King’s College London; the University of Manchester; Plymouth University and the University of Sussex), together with the local energy transition expertise of Sustainable Energy Africa.

    Website:

    http://www.urbanenergytransformations.co.za/about-this-project/

    http://www.urbantransformations.ox.ac.uk/project/urban-transformation-in-south-africa-through-co-designing-energy-services-provision/

  • Productive uses of energy in the informal food sector

    Client
    Energia through the UK Department of International Development

    Time-frame
    From January 2015 to December 2018

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot (Project lead)
    Abigail Knox
    Whitney Pailman
    Tsitsi Mketwa-Mpofu

    Problem statement:

    The Productive Uses of Energy in the Informal Food Sector project is one of five Research Areas funded as part of the Energy and Gender Research Programme (Add weblink).

    Despite expectations that access to energy for productive uses empowers women by enabling them to generate an income, women in developing countries face a range of barriers when establishing and operating enterprises, including access to energy. This research area focuses on the productive uses of energy in the informal food-processing sector in South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal. The sector is energy-intensive and in Africa women are often heavily involved. More generally, women have much to gain from access to energy including enhanced production in home-based businesses such as food or clothing production and selling. The current research adopts the perspective of the entrepreneurship and empowerment in addition to providing insights into their energy needs and choices.

    Website: http://www.energia.org/research/gender-energy-research-programme/research-area-2-productive-uses-of-energy/

  • ENERGIA Gender and Energy Research Programme

    Client: ENERGIA, University of Twente

    Period: January 2015–September 2018

    Project leader: Gisela Prasad

    Project team: Gisela Prasad, Jiska de Groot, Abigail Knox

    The project builds the evidence base for improving energy interventions’ effectiveness by taking a gender approach. EPD’s work focuses on the productive uses of energy, and investigates food preparation and processing MSMEs and the different fuel chains serving (or potentially serving) these businesses to see how they influence access to modern energy services. The project also explores from a gender perspective the changes that may be brought both within the enterprises and whether or net these are reflected in the household of the enterprise owner or employee.

  • Technology needs assessment

    Client
    The Global Environment Facility (GEF) through UNEP and UNEP DTU Partnership (UDP)

    Time-frame
    From January 2015 to May 2018

    Project team
    Bothwell Batidzirai
    Jiska de Groot

    The Technology Needs Assessment (TNA) project seeks to assist participant developing country Parties (to the UNFCCC Convention) identify and analyse priority technology needs, which can form the basis for a portfolio of environmentally sound technology (EST) projects and programmes to facilitate the transfer of, and access to, the ESTs and know-how in the implementation of Article 4.5 of the UNFCCC Convention. TNAs are central to technology transfer under the UNFCCC and present an opportunity to track an evolving need for new equipment, techniques, practical knowledge and skills, which are necessary to mitigate GHG emissions and/or reduce the vulnerability of sectors and livelihoods to the adverse impacts of climate change. The main objectives of the project are:

    • To identify and prioritize through country-driven participatory processes, technologies that can contribute to mitigation and adaptation goals of the participant countries, while meeting their national sustainable development goals and priorities.
    • To identify barriers hindering the acquisition, deployment, and diffusion of prioritized technologies.
    • To develop Technology Action Plans specifying activities and enabling frameworks to overcome the barriers and facilitate the transfer, adoption, and diffusion  of selected technologies in the participant countries.

    UNEP-DTU Partnership in Denmark (UDP) is implementing the current TNA (TNA Phase II) project in 25 developing countries across the world. The project engages two regional support centre (RCs) in each of the regions (Latin America, Africa, and Asia) to support the TNA process in the countries, with a role to generate greater awareness about technology needs of the countries at regional level, and to enhance capacities within the region. ERC is the RC for Anglophone Africa and the middle east, responsible for assisting Burundi, Egypt, Gambia, Jordan, Mozambique, Seychelles, Swaziland and Tanzania. In cooperation with UDP, ERC provides technical and process support to the national TNA teams by organising and facilitating regional training workshops, providing countries with technical backstopping support and guidance throughout project implementation and ensuring quality control of the process and outputs.

    Website:

    http://www.tech-action.org/ 

  • Understanding the barriers to the introduction and uptake of clean/improved cookstoves in Southern Africa

    Funder
    It is funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC).

    Time-frame
    From July 2016-July 2018

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot (Project lead for UCT)
    Whitney Pailman

    Short description of research

    It is estimated that 2.7 billion people worldwide rely on biomass fuels (fuelwood, charcoal, animal dung, grass, shrubs, agricultural residue) to meet basic cooking and heating needs. Most of these people are exposed to harmful levels of indoor air pollution, a major cause of respiratory disease and premature death. Traditional biomass cooking is estimated to contribute about a third of global carbon monoxide emissions, while biomass smoke contributes significantly to global climate change.

    Improved cook stoves – designed to burn biomass fuels more cleanly and efficiently – have been promoted by charities and government in developing countries since the late 1940s. A range of approaches have been tried, including artisanal construction and market-based mechanisms. These stoves have had more success in some countries rather than others; in Kenya, for example, 80% of urban families use a metal “jiko” charcoal stove for cooking, which uses 50% less fuel than a traditional stove and also decreases cooking time.

    Progress on stove adoption has been slow in Southern Africa. The Barriers project aims to understand the barriers preventing the uptake of improved cook stoves in Southern Africa. Be learning from successful projects in East Africa, a plan to overcome these barriers will be produced. This includes the development of a range of targeted resources for a range of stakeholders, including policy-makers, value chain actors and supporting services providers.

    The multi-disciplinary research uses participatory methods to better understand the uptake of improved cook stoves, with a particular focus on South-South learning and knowledge transfer. Countries that are studied include Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa. It is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC).

    Website:

    https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/barriers/index.aspx

  • Willingness Pay for improved electricity supply reliability in Zambia

    Client
    International Growth Centre/ DFID

    Time-frame
    From August 2016 to April 2018

    Project leader:
    Bothwell Batidzirai

    Project team
    Bothwell Batidzirai
    Alfred Moyo
    Michael Kapembwa (Zambia partner)
    Jiska de Groot
    Louise Tait
    Kimenthrie Pillay

    Problem statement:

    This study is a response to Zambia’s poor electricity service delivery experienced in recent years and the need to rationalise the electricity tariffs so as to attract investment in the electricity sector and improve supplies. Due to a drought in 2015, Zambia’s predominantly hydro based electricity supplies were severely impacted, resulting in power blackouts of up to 8 hours per day. These electricity supply problems put severe pressure on the country’s economic growth, with commerce and industry suffering substantial losses due to reduced production capacity (many manufacturers claimed to be running at only 30% - 40% of production capacity during the worst parts of the electricity crisis). The productive sector also experienced increased input costs due to expensive back-up power and the changing of shifts. The electricity supply crisis has therefore been a substantial growth constraint for Zambia.

    Any improvements in the power supplies would require substantial funding from both the public utility and private investors to support additional generation capacity as well as maintaining system infrastructure. These investments need to be supported by good tariff regime that ensures return on investment and long term sector sustainability. Given the historically low tariff regime in Zambia which was based on largely amortised hydro based system, the country needs to revise its electricity tariffs to address the financial health of the sector. However, the level of the tariff increases is a contentious issue as any tariff increases could have macroeconomic implications through increased cost of goods and services and may affect the viability of businesses and access to energy especially those in the low income groups.

    Website:
    https://www.theigc.org/project/willingness-and-affordability-to-pay-for-improved-electricity-supply-reliability-in-zambia/

  • Assessment of Viability and Implementation Options for Renewable Energy in Rural and Low Income Urban Areas in South Africa

    Funder
    Working for Energy Programme – South African National Energy Development Institute, collaboration with Restio Energy.

    Time-frame
    From July 2016-July 2018

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot (Project lead)
    Samantha Keen
    Gamu Mutezo

    Short description of research
    As grid electrification alone will not achieve universal access in South Africa within set out timeframes, off-grid programmes are crucial for meeting South Africa’s energy service delivery commitments to the approximately 3 million households without access to grid or the energy poor. These are located around poverty nodes in remote rural and informal areas.  A combination of innovative and low-cost technology design, the staggering proliferation of cellular phones and the emergence of a robust mobile banking service models present an enormous opportunity in South Africa to reach unserviced citizens.  

    This study sets out to design a programme for Working for Energy (WfE) programme, including technology characterization, resource mapping and programme framework. The goal of the WfE programme is to promote sustainable private sector and/or community driven off-grid service delivery that accelerates universal access to modern energy services as well as embracing government priorities surrounding Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) in the form of SMEs.  The WfE is to be established as a South African off-grid technology incubator designed to support the on-going development and long-term sustainability of off-grid technologies.  In its current form the WfE has been operating out of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) now having originally been conceived within the Department of Energy (DoE). Its original purpose was to develop and implement labour intensive energy related initiatives that align with the Working for Water (WfW) programme, a programme designed to eradicate or mitigate against invasive alien plants. The WfE programme has the potential to assist the WfW programme in developing more sustainable energy solutions around the downstream opportunities associated with the WfW surplus biomass, a key reason for establishing the original WfE programme.

  • ‘Green’ and ‘brown’ agendas in power plant development in South Africa in light of climate change

    Client
    ERC internal grant

    Time-frame
    From June 2017 to June 2018

    Project team
    Jiska de Groot (Project lead)
    Melissa Kerim-Dikeni

    Objectives:
    This study aims to explore the tensions between achieving green (environmentally friendly) and brown (poverty alleviation) issues in energy planning and decision-making in South Africa in the light of climate change, in order to assist decision-makers in devising energy strategies that advance green and brown issues.

  • Energy poverty in developing countries’ urban poor communities: Case study – South Africa

    Project leader and team: Louise Tait

    The project explored the barriers to urban energy access among urban communities in South Africa. Demand and supply side barriers at local and national scale were investigated through interviews and a survey.