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Reference Number ES/N014138/1
Title Urban Transformation in South Africa Through Co-Designing Energy Services Provision Pathways
Status Completed
Energy Categories OTHER CROSS-CUTTING TECHNOLOGIES or RESEARCH(Environmental, social and economic impacts) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Geography and Environmental Studies) 25%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Town and Country Planning) 25%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Sociology) 25%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Development Studies) 25%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Policy and regulation) 50%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 50%;
Principal Investigator Dr F Caprotti
No email address given
King's College London
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 14 February 2016
End Date 14 September 2016
Duration 7 months
Total Grant Value £403,207
Industrial Sectors
Region London
Programme Newton
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr F Caprotti , Geography, King's College London (99.995%)
  Other Investigator Dr DH Potts , Geography, King's College London (0.001%)
Dr L Baker , School of Business Management &Economics, University of Sussex (0.001%)
Dr S Essex , School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth (0.001%)
Professor S Bouzarovski , Environment, Education and Developmen, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Dr S Petrova , Environment, Education and Developmen, University of Manchester (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives The project has the following research objectives:1. Develop an understanding of the socio-technical development and evolution of urban energy systems in South Africa, and their implications for sustainable urban livelihoods, low carbon energy provision, poverty, and inclusivity. A key contribution will be the development of a socio-technical narrative examining the development of urban energy systems in the South African context.2. Carry out case study-based analysis of niche innovations/experiments in urban energy systems in South Africa. Selected experiments will focus on energy delivery to the poor while developing transformative pathways towards green urban economies. This will ensure a focus on socio-economic impact and equity as part of a more nuanced focus on energy systems and pathways.3. Co-design context-sensitive approaches to transformative energy pathways at the municipal scale in South Africa, using a range of methodological approaches and engagement with stakeholders from municipalities and NGOs.4. Develop lessons for transferability of project knowledge to other urban contexts in South Africa, Southern Africa, and beyond, through consistent engagement with policymakers.
Abstract Energy is a critical enabler of development. Energy transitions, involving changes to both systems of energy supply and demand, are fundamental processes behind the development of human societies and are driven by technical, economic, political and social factors. Historical specificities and geography influence the character of energy transitions. In a world that is experiencing unprecedented urban growth, modern urbanised societies are highly dependent on energy. By 2030, more than 50% of people in developing countries are expected to live in cities, which is a figure set to grow to 66% by 2050. This urbanisation trend is even more prominent in South Africa, where 64% of its population already live in urban areas and is expected to rise to 70% by 2030. South African cities are highly dependent on energy, and access to and the provision of energy services affects urban energy transitions. Furthermore, access to affordable and reliable energy services is fundamental to reducing poverty and advancing economic growth. In response to this, many cities in South Africa and beyond have adopted sustainable energy provision strategies and solutions as a way of promoting economic development and greening of urban economies. However, Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA)'s State of the Energy in South African Cities report (2015) identifies that much remains to be done in order to transform South African cities towards a more sustainable urban energy profile, which is in turn aimed at improving welfare, supporting economic activity, creating 'green collar' and other jobs, and reducing carbon emissions. The project's focus on urban energy transitions is therefore both timely and necessary.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
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 03/01/18