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EEG and LCEDN partner to develop a research agenda for community energy resilience

Many low-income countries are vulnerable to natural hazards, ecological degradation and global climate change – factors that all threaten the progress towards economic development that’s enabled by access to energy. However, until recently, researchers have failed to address community energy resilience in the design and development of sustainable energy systems.

Energy is key to economic growth, but, after disasters, governments don’t always prioritise the re-establishment of energy access. In addition, community energy resilience is linked to a shift away from a reactive approach to disaster response, to a proactive approach of disaster risk management.

A partnership between EEG and the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN)* has been launched to drive new research collaborations and open up dialogue on community energy resilience in low-income countries, supported by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Whole Systems Networking Fund.

Using a whole systems energy research approach, the six-month Research Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience in Low-Income Countries project will bring together social science perspectives on governance, economic modelling, disaster risk management and technical expertise on designing resilient infrastructure.

The project objectives are to:

  • Facilitate knowledge exchange and establish a working relationship between academics, policymakers, energy practitioners and donors in the UK, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

  • Identify research opportunities to increase community energy resilience in on-grid, mini-grid, and stand-alone electricity systems

  • Explore opportunities to extend this research area through further funding

These objectives will be achieved through three workshops, in the UK, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The workshops will further engage stakeholders in this research area and develop joint proposals for future work. The outputs will include a webinar, a working paper, a policy briefing and a project report.

The project was launched on June 1 2018, during a session on Resilience Concepts for Energy held at the LCEDN Annual Conference at Loughborough University in the UK.

In addition to providing a launch platform for the research project, the conference session brought together several perspectives on community energy resilience, which can include both the resilience of energy systems to shocks and stresses, as well as the contribution of energy to improving community resilience.

Three presentations were given, examining community energy needs after disasters, the long-term planning required to improve energy resilience, technical developments for building adaptations, how resilient energy systems can contribute to community resilience through improved livelihoods, and the longevity of energy systems.

The Resilience Concepts for Energy session demonstrated a need for donors to be more aware of how communities are coping with energy needs after disasters, and emphasised the importance of technology and planning. It also highlighted three things that governments need to think about in relation to energy resilience; implementing a plan, agreeing a decision-making protocol and putting finance in place. These need to be integrated into plans for disaster risk management.

For information about the upcoming Research Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience in Low-Income Countries workshops look out for updates on the EEG website or contact the Principal Investigator for the project, Long Seng To at l.to@lboro.ac.uk

An EEG Energy Insight paper on developing a research agenda for community energy resilience in the electricity sector can be found here.

 

*LCEDN is a network of UK researchers focused on renewable energy and international development and is involved in delivering capacity building activities for DFID’s Transforming Energy Access (TEA) programme, which focuses on enabling energy access via stand-alone and mini-grid systems.

 

By Long Seng To