20 Dec 2016

Funding for project aimed at improving clean energy provision in developing countries

Loughborough University academics Dr Ed Brown and Dr Jon Cloke, from the Department of Geography, along with colleagues from Durham University, Edinburgh University and other UK institutions, this month secured the funding, spread over 18 months, to enable them to provide training, workshops and conferences which allow experts to exchange ideas about how to improve energy access in developing economies.

The new project, which begins in January, is being delivered by the UK Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCDEN) – a platform for academics, practitioners, policy-makers and private sector organisations to interact and cooperate on research for low-carbon development – and is part of a larger Government initiative known as the Transforming Energy Access (TEA) initiative.

Dr Jon Cloke, the LCEDN’s National Network Manager, said: “The award comes after years of increasing engagement by the LCEDN with DFID, and places Loughborough University at the forefront of UK government initiatives to tackle both energy poverty and research into the low carbon transitions so vital to tackling the effects of anthropogenic global warming.”

The type of initiatives involved include raising awareness amongst energy project developers and research funders over how best to ensure that gender issues are addressed when designing projects, delivery models and/or products.

One of the main focuses of the scheme will be on supporting the sustainable promotion of renewable energy in Africa, the world’s second largest continent; where as much of 70% of the population currently remain without access to electricity.

The Partnership for Skills Development scheme will run for 18 months and work with organisations such as the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP), the Africa Sustainability Hub (ASH), the ENERGIA international network on gender and sustainable energy, Energy 4 Impact (E4I) and Engineers Without Borders UK (EWB-UK).

Loughborough University’s Dr Ed Brown, a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, and LCEDN Co-Coordinator, said the programme will bring together a multi-disciplinary pool of experts from academia, industry, governments and non-governmental organisations.

He said: “We are delighted to have this opportunity to build on the work that we have been doing with colleagues across the UK energy and development research community over the past few years.

“This programme brings together a really important series of partnerships that will provide significant support to the UK’s sponsorship of global energy access initiatives.”

Alistair Wray, from the UK’s Department of International Development, added: “There is significant interest and capacity in the UK research and innovation community in tackling the clean energy access challenges in the developing world, and LCEDN through its recent work, is in a unique position to promote effective networking and skills development”.  Other partners involved in the project are the International Conference on Developments in Renewable Energy Technologies (ICDRET), the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Practical Action (PA), the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), the Smart Villages Initiative (SVI) and the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences (UKCDS).

The LCEDN was set up to bridge the gap between scientists, engineers, economists, financiers, researchers, academics, policy-makers and entrepreneurs.

The Partnership for Skills Development scheme will bring together representatives from each of these sectors and allow them to work together and share knowledge and experience.

The activities will be guided by eight ‘capacity building’ themes:

  • Gender
  • Governance
  • Value chains
  • Innovative forms of energy finance and delivery models
  • Waste and sustainability
  • North-south relations
  • Impact assessment methodologies
  • Transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral working

Dr Cloke said: “A lot of the focus within energy access initiatives has been on the technology and on ‘scaling up’ business models, whilst we recognise the importance of both those factors, our programme will focus attention on a much wider set of issues surrounding the direction of low carbon transitions and their impacts.

“There is no more urgent a challenge facing humanity than fighting man-made climate change whilst simultaneously providing low-carbon energy to the billions who lack access globally.

“With this commitment, the UK government has put the existing expertise of the UK and its global partnerships at the forefront of that challenge.”