Dr Simon Batchelor

  • Visiting Fellow in Energy and International Development
  • MECS UK Research and Innovation Co-ordinator

Dr. Batchelor has over 30 years’ experience in development. Starting in agriculture and water provision in the 80’s, he focused on Wind and Solar energy, contributing to the early development of renewable energy in Africa and Asia. In the 90’s, he designed and implemented an innovative programme of social mobilisation in Cambodia – which saw considerable impact over a ten year period. This experience influenced his interest in the importance of social factors in technology adoption, and led to stream of participatory research focused on the role of energy in development. In 2002, based on research in Africa, Simon began to Champion the potential of using Mobile Phones for banking the unbanked and lowering remittance costs. His successful lobbying contributions resulted in attention being paid to the problem by the UK Treasury, mention of remittances in the G8 Gleneagles statement, inclusion in the Commission for Africa report, allocation of funds by IADB, World Bank, DFID, CGAP, GSM, SIDA, IDRC and most importantly the successful start-up of a number of Mobile Money Transfer products including MPesa by Vodafone in Kenya. DFID acknowledged his role as Champion in 2005 and he currently works with a number of private sector initiatives. From 2010 onwards he has returned to his clean energy roots, and is currently part of a number of research teams on low carbon programmes. A practitioner at heart, he is currently Director of Gamos Ltd, which undertakes action research and learning on the social factors influencing development programmes.

Simon Batchelor is currently working with colleagues from within the department, through the UK Low Carbon Energy for Development Network, on a series projects including READ. 

Funded via the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID) and the UK Government Department for Energy and Climate Change under their jointly funded Understanding Sustainable Energy Solutions research programme, the Renewable Energy And Decentralization (READ) project is basically about the importance of local governance (and in particular decentralization) to sustainable energy transitions. It arose out of a shared frustration with the general lack of attention being paid to the role of local government within the current explosion of interest within clean energy transitions across lower income and lower middle income economies, particularly within a context where the theme of political decentralization is once again firmly rising up the political agenda.