headshot of Dr Long Seng To taken outside

Academic awarded fellowship for project that aims to provide sustainable energy to vulnerable communities

A Loughborough researcher has been granted a prestigious five-year research fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dr Long Seng To, of the Department of Geography, has been announced as one of two recipients of the Engineering for Development Research Fellowship.

Dr To is a Research Associate with the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) – a UK-wide platform for academics, practitioners, policy-makers and private sector organisations to interact and cooperate on research for low-carbon development.

The Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship has been awarded to the Loughborough academic for a research project titled ‘Enhancing community energy resilience using renewable energy in developing countries’.

The project aims to find a solution to the challenge of providing access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all – which forms one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With increasing stresses such as climate change, natural hazards and conflicts on communities, the project looks to positively impact socio-economic development in these areas.

Dr To will be focusing on two vulnerable countries, Nepal and Malawi. According to the Energy Progress Report, just 11% of the population in Malawi have access to electricity, with only 28% of people in Nepal and 3% in Malawi having access to modern cooking fuels.

In addition, both countries have been susceptible to natural disasters, such as earthquakes (Nepal, 2015) and droughts (Malawi, 2017).

Dr To plans to work with two communities in each country, using participatory design processes involving community members, engineers, academics, government officials and research partners including the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre and Mzuzu University to create resilient energy systems.

By working with such a diverse group, it is hoped this will help to gather a larger pool of innovative ideas and possible solutions.

Dr To will also work with the Building Research Establishment and AKTEK during the Fellowship to develop design tools that help engineers to engage with communities and build more resilient energy systems.  

Of being awarded the fellowship, Dr Long Seng To said: “I am absolutely delighted to be selected for the prestigious fellowship.

“This fellowship will enable me to work closely with communities, researchers and policy-makers in developing countries to unlock local sources of innovation for decentralised, networked and resilient energy systems.

“I am excited about this fantastic opportunity to also contribute towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

This highly interdisciplinary research project is a collaboration between LCEDN and the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST), based at Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

The research highlights Loughborough University’s approach to tackling Global Challenges which combines the institution’s disciplinary strengths to develop solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

The Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowships support and celebrate research excellence in engineering, helping future leaders who are in their early career to progress further by providing financial support, access to mentors and allowing more time to dedicate towards research.