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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number ES/K001361/1
Title Mapping Urban Energy Landscapes (MUEL) in the Global South
Status Completed
Energy Categories Energy Efficiency(Residential and commercial) 100%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Geography and Environmental Studies) 50%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Development Studies) 50%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Consumer attitudes and behaviour) 50%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 50%;
Principal Investigator Dr V Castan Broto
No email address given
Development Planning Unit
University College London
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 01 July 2013
End Date 30 June 2016
Duration 36 months
Total Grant Value £171,459
Industrial Sectors
Region London
Programme Training
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr V Castan Broto , Development Planning Unit, University College London (100.000%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Atkins (0.000%)
Project Contact , Practical Action (0.000%)
Project Contact , United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Kenya (0.000%)
Project Contact , Xyratex Technology Limited (0.000%)
Project Contact , Humanitarian Open Street Map Team, USA (0.000%)
Web Site
Abstract This research project is concerned with humanity's potential to achieve low carbon, socially just cities. It focuses on rapidly urbanising areas in the global south, where climate change vulnerabilities and access to energy are pressing issues. The contention in this proposal is that achieving low carbon, socially just cities will require a spatial, socio-economic and political transformation. This transformation will depend on our ability to find low carbon development pathways for urban energy systems. Changes in energy systems and urbanisation processes are mutually dependent. Thus, devising sustainable development pathways towards low carbon and socially just cities will require new methods to analyse the shared history and geography of energy systems and cities.Sociotechnical perspectives focus on the heterogeneous nature of energy systems, including both social components (such as energy use norms and behaviour, economic activities, and government regulations) and technical components (such as generation technologies, distribution networks and home appliances). These perspectives have already advanced our understanding of sustainable development pathways identifying structural factors which prevent the rapid transition towards sustainable energy systems and devising institutional processes to catalyse transitions. These theories, however, have not fully engaged with the spatial, historical and political aspects of those transitions. Moreover, few of these studies have linked the operation of energy systems with their impacts on the everyday life of people in cities in the global South. In this project, I join sociotechnical theories of energy and theories which look at the distribution and histories of energy and everyday life in cities in a new concept called Urban Energy Landscapes (UELs). UELs also draw attention to the equity issues raised by the production, transmission and consumption of energy in cities in the global South, in particular, to the unequal distribution of access to energy services and environmental burdens within those UELs. The contention of this project is that focusing on UELs will help to identify barriers and opportunities for sustainable development pathways towards low carbon, socially just cities.The proposal has a strong methodological component because it is concerned with the lack of methodologies to understand UELs. Geographical Information Systems (GIS) handle large amounts of data in databases where location is explicitly included as part of the data. They enable the identification of urban land use features and spatial changes. However, they can also hide important information regarding the complex interactions of social and technical elements in UELs and the political aspects of urban and energy development. This project will develop a new methodology which will combine critical applications of GIS and qualitative research methods. The methodology will be tested in four cities: Maputo (Mozambique),Lima (Peru), Bangalore (India), and Nanchang (China). A comparative analysis of the cases will help identifying barriers and opportunities for achieving low carbon cities. The project will build on collaborations with and mentorship from world-leading experts in energy and cities. Yet, with this project, I will develop a new conceptual framework and methodology connecting previously separated strands of research. The research will contribute evidence for policy-making on energy and development and practical tools for urban development planning that will be disseminated through partnerships with international organisations, charities and businesses working to increase energy access and improving the sustainability of energy in cities. Overall, the project will seek to make a difference in understanding how energy is produced, transmitted and consumed in cities in the global south, by identifying opportunities for a low carbon, socially-just future
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 13/01/15