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Projects: Projects for Investigator
Reference Number ES/T006358/1
Title Community energy and sustainable energy transitions in Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique (CESET)
Status Completed
Energy Categories Other Power and Storage Technologies(Electric power conversion) 25%;
Other Power and Storage Technologies(Electricity transmission and distribution) 25%;
Other Cross-Cutting Technologies or Research(Energy Economics) 25%;
Other Cross-Cutting Technologies or Research(Environmental, social and economic impacts) 25%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100%
Science and Technology Fields ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Geography and Environmental Studies) 25%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Economics and Econometrics) 25%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Development Studies) 25%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 25%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Systems Analysis related to energy R&D (Energy modelling) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Technology acceptance) 25%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Other sociological economical and environmental impact of energy) 25%;
Other (Energy technology information dissemination) 25%;
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 April 2020
End Date 30 September 2023
Duration 42 months
Total Grant Value £1,317,217
Industrial Sectors
Region London
Programme ESRC - RCUK GCRF - Grants
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr V Castan Broto , Development Planning Unit, University College London (99.987%)
  Other Investigator Dr Y Mulugetta , Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey (0.001%)
Professor MJ Power , Geography, Durham University (0.001%)
Dr JD Kirshner , Environment, University of York (0.001%)
Dr L To , Geography and Environment, Loughborough University (0.001%)
Professor CA Cuvilas , The Eduardo Mondlane Engineering Faculty, Eduardo Mondlane University (0.001%)
Dr C Shenga , Centre for Research on Governance (CPGD), Centre for Research on Governance (CPGD) (0.001%)
Miss L Howe , Centre for Research on Governance (CPGD), Centre for Research on Governance (CPGD) (0.001%)
Professor A Simone , Urban Institute, University of Sheffield (0.001%)
Dr G Bekele , Grants Administration, Addis Ababa University (0.001%)
Dr C Zalengera , Environmental Sciences, Mzuzu University (0.001%)
Dr MG Gebreslassie , Ethiopian Inst of Technology-Mekelle, Mekelle University (0.001%)
Dr D A Macucule , School of Architecture and Planning, Eduardo Mondlane University (0.001%)
Dr I Baptista , Continuing Education, University of Oxford (0.001%)
Web Site
Objectives CESET is an interdisciplinary research programme for the development of Community Energy Systems (CESs) to facilitate a just sustainable energy transition that will bridge the energy access gap in East Africa.Community Energy Systems (CESs) refer to a range of collective, cooperative or municipally managed systems of energy generation and distribution, such as, for example, small-hydro and wind community projects, or locally-managed micro-grids. Research evidence suggests that CESs provide feasible options to deliver energy access for low-income communities (Tomei and Gent, 2015). CESs promote radical social and technological innovations which are needed to foster a transition to sustainable energy (Hargreaves et al., 2013; Hicks and Ison, 2018; Seyfang and Haxeltine, 2012; Seyfang et al., 2014). Hence, there are heightened hopes that CESs can increase energy access rapidly while also reducing carbon emissions, in line with the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (Alstone et al., 2015).CESET focuses on Ethiopia, Malawi, and Mozambique, three countries in East Africa where significant gaps in access to electricity remain despite national and international efforts to improve rates of energy access. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is an increasing number of CES projects across the three countries. A review of off-grid projects in Malawi indicates that they are effective to alleviate energy poverty (Dauenhauer and Frame, 2016). However, the potential of CESs to transform energy systems while meeting the needs of communities has not been studied and empirical evidence of the operation and impacts of CESs in East Africa is still lacking.CESET will harness the potential of CESs to foster just and sustainable energy transitions for all in East Africa by addressing three objectives:Objective 1: To develop a theoretical framework to understand the diversity of CESs in East Africa and their role in delivering energy transitions;Objective 2: To deliver a systematic body of empirical evidence on what works for CESs in East Africa, examining the institutional, technological, financial, and socio-political challenges of implementation; andObjective 3: To build research capacity for a long-term, human-centered programme of research on CESs in East Africa.The effectiveness of CESs depends on the fit between specific technological and financial models and the diverse needs of the communities who are supposed to benefit. Such fit requires an ongoing, collective process of infrastructure management whereby communities, governmental institutions, businesses, and non-for-profit organisations negotiate the technologies, institutions, and operational systems that underpin CESs. CESs must also address energy needs alongside intersecting forms of social and political discrimination, obscured by idealistic notions of homogeneous, harmonious, communities.CESET will provide theoretical and empirical evidence of both the technological and material diversity of CESs models, and how community diversity shapes their implementation and impact. CESET will transform current international and national policies for energy access by developing a new conceptualisation of CESs as intersectional and variegated. To do so, CESET will develop novel methodologies to integrate a multi-scalar, interdisciplinary analysis of barriers to energy access (political economy of energy, infrastructure delivery, technological models and engineering, everyday practices of access) with practical lessons from an off-grid pilot project implemented with communities in Mozambique (a Community Energy Lab).CESET will also establish a Regional Energy Learning Alliance (RELA), an interdisciplinary, international network to build research capacity for a human-centered approach to energy access and energy transitions in East Africa.
Abstract The 2019 Energy Progress Report shows the need to step up efforts to link on-grid and off-grid strategies to facilitate access to electricity (EIA et al, 2019). According to the report, eight of the twenty countries with the largest deficits in access to electricity are in East Africa, including Ethiopia, Malawi, and Mozambique. In countries facing such significant gaps in energy access, the rapid adoption of renewable energy may help to deliver access to energy sustainably. The growing availability of renewable technologies in East Africa's countries suggests that such a transition is possible. However, technology alone will not solve the challenge of energy access.A transition to sustainable energy needs to prioritise the social needs of excluded and disadvantaged groups. Responding to people's energy needs requires institutional, organisational, and financial models of energy delivery that prioritise social benefits over profits.New models of energy delivery have been developed to involve communities in the design and management of off-grid systems. While the size and technologies used vary, all Community Energy Systems (henceforth CESs) incorporate the perspectives of beneficiaries on electricity generation and distribution through collaborative mechanisms for decision-making. CESs can provide additional capacity to existing grids, provide off-grid services where the grid is absent, and bridge on-grid and off-grid systems.The project CESET brings together researchers from political science, human geography, engineering and technology providers to understand the role of CESs in advancing a just sustainable energy transition that will bridge the energy access gap in East Africa.Our focus is in Ethiopia, Malawi, and Mozambique, three countries where there is considerable local enthusiasm about CESs. Proponents of CESs argue that they can foster deep structural transformations in countries facing large electricity deficits. First, by giving ownership to communities, CESs challenge the political economy of energy and reveal energy-related inequalities. Second, by demonstrating new modes of service provision, CESs can diversify the institutional landscape of energy delivery. Third, by incorporating the concerns of the more disadvantaged populations in the design and management of energy services, CESs can respond to their needs directly and generate innovations tailored to those needs.There is little evidence of how CESs work in practice and their impacts in East Africa because of the shortage of data on CESs, and energy systems more generally. There is a need to renew policy and practice. Research and interventions often rely on technological blueprints that do not fit the institutional and material conditions in which CESs operate. Moreover, conceptualisations of communities as harmonious, homogenous units obscure the multiple forms of exclusion that influence energy access and infrastructure management. There is already an internationalconsensus about the need for disaggregated data to understand the gender gap in energy access. CESET advocates going beyond by considering the intersection of gender with multiple social characteristics that may also lead to exclusion from energy services (such as age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, place of origin).CESET will produce three outcomes to address this challenge. CESET's theoretical framework will recognise the variety of CESs models and how they interact with multiple variables of community diversity. CESET will also characterise the landscape of operation of CESs in East Africa at three scales: local, national, and regional. Further learning will happen with the activation of a Community Energy Lab in Mozambique to compile evidence of what works in practice. CESET's efforts will lead to the creation of a Regional Energy Learning Alliance to deliver a long-term research programme and support trans-sectorial learning on CESs in East Africa.
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 23/10/20