Dr Sarah Wykes

  • Senior Research Associate in Energy Planning

Academic career

  • 2011-2021 Lead Analyst - Climate Change and Energy, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), London
  • 2009- 2011 Freelance consultant on international development, natural resource and climate change policy analysis, advocacy and project management
  • 2002-2009 Senior Campaigner on Corruption in Oil, Gas & Mining, Global Witness, London
  • 1997-200 Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL)

Professional responsibilities

  • 2014 onwards: Co-founder and Coordination Group Member of Alliance of CSOs for Clean Energy Access (ACCESS), a global network of practitioners and organizations advocating for energy access and sustainable energy systems globally

  • 2020 onwards: Member of Steering Group of Bretton Woods Project

Sarah began an academic career working in the field of comparative cultural analysis, with an MA & PhD from the University of London and a BA from the University of Cambridge. She then moved to a career working on policy advocacy and applied research in international development and natural resource governance for a number of international organisations. Her work over the past decade has focussed on how the UK and other international and national actors can support a socially just sustainable energy transition, working with partners in the UK, Europe and in a number of countries in the Global South. Her particular policy research focus has been on approaches to delivering and financing energy services to the “last mile” so that the poorest and most vulnerable groups are not left behind in the global energy transition.

This has included, from 2014 onwards, spearheading CAFOD innovative research collaboration with the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) to determine the flows of UK public support for energy overseas and their alignment with the UK’s international climate and development goals. This formed the baseline for  CAFOD’s successful campaigning to end UK support for fossil fuels. In collaboration with other NGOs, these efforts won a David and Goliath campaigning award from the Sheila McKechnie Foundation in 2021.

Other projects involved developing an innovative energy service (and wider development) planning approach - the Energy Delivery Models approach in collaboration with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The aim of this collaboration is to address the current gap in inclusive and integrated approaches to designing and delivering energy services. The EDM approaches energy as an enabler of delivering impact across different development sectors. It was piloted at community level in Indonesia and several other countries and is now being used to support more macro-level planning at county level in Kenya.

She also initiated research with ODI on social protection approaches to delivering energy access for the poorest and most vulnerable. This developed into a global research collaboration with Sustainable Energy for All - the Energy Safety Nets project analysing the experience of using targeted public subsidies for energy access in six countries.  Finally, she co-founded the Alliance of CSOs for Clean Energy Access (ACCESS), a global coalition of over 80 organizations currently hosted by the Kenya Climate Change Working Group in Nairobi. ACCESS advocating for people living in poverty to have access to safe, reliable and affordable energy, and for environmentally sustainable and efficient energy systems globally.

At Loughborough, Sarah will be building on her previous work around SDG 7 with links to other SDG areas as part of the new research centre on Sustainable Transitions, Energy, Environment and Resilience (STEER), including leading delivery of an EU-funded Sustainable Energy Technical Assistance programme to the Ministry of Energy in Kenya.

  • 2021 - Energy services for local development Integrated and inclusive planning for country governments in Kenya: Working Paper - See: https://pubs.iied.org/16051iied - Working paper on the experience of applyng Energy Delivery Model (EDM) inclusive and integrated planning approach developed by IIED and CAFOD to support county energy planning in Kenya.
  • 2020 - CDC’s support for energy overseas - See: https://bit.ly/3fF7chE - New research into CDC’s energy investments overseas  showing the significant ongoing support for fossil fuels.
  • 2020 - UK support for energy overseas 2010-18 - See: https://bit.ly/2RgYQBg - Five year research collaboration with Overseas Development Institute (ODI) to  evaluate UK public support for energy overseas and its level of alignment with the UK’s climate change and development commitments. 
  • 2020 - Briefing paper:  Powering past oil and gas: Energy choices for sustainable development - See: https://bit.ly/3aJp3Be - FAQs and related policy report examining the relationship between oil and gas and energy poverty, the role of oil and gas in economic development, and the social and environmental impacts of oil and gas production and use.
  • 2020 - Energy Safety Nets research series - See: https://www.seforall.org/data-and-evidence/energy-safety-nets-series - Ground-breaking research collaboration between CAFOD, the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative and ODI on how to close the affordability gap and deliver energy access to the poorest and most vulnerable people through social protection approaches (“energy safety nets”). Includes case studies from Brazil, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Mexico, a report synthesising the research findings, and a Guide for Policymakers. 
  • 2018 - Ending energy poverty - See: https://www.sustainablegoals.org.uk/ending-energy-poverty/ - Article for UNA-UK on SDG 7 implementation
  • 2017 - The Energy Delivery Model Toolkit: Planning pro-poor energy services for maximum impact - See: https://pubs.iied.org/16638IIED/ - The Energy Delivery Model (EDM) project is a collaboration between CAFOD and IIED aiming to build understanding of the importance of inclusive and integrated planning and delivery approaches to maximise development impact of energy services. The EDM Toolkit is a six-step planning process with two innovative tools synthesizing field testing over several years.
  • 2017 - Using the EDM Toolkit to analyse impact: a small-scale horticulture project in Kenya - See: https://bit.ly/33oF65b - This study uses the EDM methodology to review the impact of a large-scale, CAFOD/EU community-based energy project in Kitui county, Kenya.