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Previous Projects

  • Measuring household energy access in South Africa

    Client: Global Network on Energy for Sustainable Development

    Period: 2014

    Project leader and team: Louise Tait

    This project investigated the state of energy access among urban households in a South African city. The project developed a suite of indicators with which to measure the state of energy access among households. A survey of households was undertaken on energy consumption patterns. This baseline was used to interrogate the South African policy approach to energy access from and Energy Plus framework perspective.

  • The impact of rising electricity tariffs on the poor

    Client: Oxfam (UK)

    Period: 2012 – 2014

    Project leader: Gisela Prasad

    Project team: Gisela Prasad, Lana Franks

    This study sought to determine – mainly through quantitative analyses – the impact of rising electricity tariffs on the poor. This involved the development and administering of a questionnaire in the Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay (South Africa). Data was analysed using SPSS. This study largely focuses on changes to household consumption for the tariff change of 1 July 2012 for the City of Cape Town customers. Electricity consumption data obtained from the City of Cape Town is used to to verify and supplement questionnaire findings.

    Some of the main findings include:

    • Tariff increases have been minimal and kept below inflation for small to medium power users, which includes the majority of poor households.
    • Tariff increases for large power users have been significantly higher than inflation.
    • Tariff increases are not the problem; sharing a meter is.
    • The tariff is not the problem; a lack of tariff literacy is.
  • Social impact study of the training provided in the Touwsriver Training faculty

    Client: Soitec

    Period: 2011 – 2014

    Project leader: Bothwell Batidzirai

    Project team: Bothwell Batidzirai, Holle Wlokas

    This study evaluated the impacts of integrating local socio-economic development into renewable energy projects as required under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement programme. As a voluntary contribution to developing the Touws River community during the construction of its solar CPV plant in the area, Soitec developed the “South Africa CPV training programme”, targeting solar energy technology skills development. This initiative was undertaken in collaboration with Northlink (a technical training institute), DEG (Germany) co-funding the training and the Energy Research Centre supporting the design of the training and evaluation of impacts.

  • The rising powers, clean development and the low carbon transition in Sub-Saharan Africa

    Client: Economic and Social Research Council, Durham University

    Period: 2012 – 2015

    Project leader: Prof. Marcus Power (Durham University)

    Local project participant (as part of international team): Gisela Prasad

    This is a three-year project which seeks to examine why, how and to what extent China, Brazil and India are enabling a low carbon energy transition in Southern Africa. This interdisciplinary project aims to develop new frameworks for analysis in order to systematically compare the roles that rising powers are playing in this transition. It specifically analyses how they are shaping the provision of energy services for productive uses (e.g. cooking, lighting and mobility) and assesses the consequent implications for the affordability, accessibility and sustainability of energy services in the region. The project also assesses the implications for the wider governance of energy and climate change at the local, national, regional and global scales.

    Specific aims and objectives:

    • To advance theoretical understanding of the nature of low carbon transitions in Southern Africa.
    • To analyse the political economy of the role of China and Brazil in low carbon transitions in Southern Africa.
    • To assess the technically, socially and spatially differentiated nature of the low carbon transitions being created by China and Brazil in the region.
    • To assess the implications for governance and development

    The project is implemented by a multi-disciplinary team from Durham University, the University of Sussex, The University of Cape Town, the Centre for Strategic Studies and Management, and Practical Action, as well as several consultative partners.

  • Research project on employment, income distribution and inclusive growth: Energy, poverty and climate change

    Client: South African Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town

    Period: 2014-2015

    Project leader: Gisela Prasad

    Project team: Gisela Prasad, Lana Franks, Louise Tait, Whitney Pailman, Wikus Kruger

    The Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth (REDI) is a national research programme aimed at deepening understanding of the dynamics of employment, incomes and economic trends. By focusing on the interconnections between these three areas, the project seeks to contribute to policy reforms and development strategies that will address South Africa’s unemployment, inequality and poverty challenges.

    Under the REDI programme, the ERC is currently carrying out research on energy, poverty and climate change – focusing on addressing the following research questions:

    • How can energy poverty measurements be designed to effectively target subsidies and interventions to people who need them most?
    • What are the health costs associated with using polluting fuels for cooking and heating?
    • Exploring the social, technical and planning challenges related to energy service delivery in urban informal areas.
    • How can clean energy enterprises lead to inclusive growth in the green economy?

    The team at the University of Cape Town uses participatory methodologies to find inclusive solutions to energy problems. Four research papers will be produced as a result of this project:

    •  A “multi-dimensional energy poverty indicator” (MEPI) adapted for the South African energy context (Lana Franks and Gisela Prasad)
    • The health impact of using polluting fuels in poor households – estimating the cost to the economy (Lana Franks, Wikus Kruger and Gisela Prasad)
    • Inclusive energy service delivery in informal urban settings (Louise Tait)
    • Inclusive clean energy entrepreneurship and innovation: A catalyst for poverty alleviation, sustainable livelihoods and the economic emancipation of indigent communities (Whitney Pailman and Gisela Prasad)