Dr Enora Robin was awarded a three-year Early Career Fellowship (2020-2023) by the Leverhulme Trust to explore how different forms of finance mediate the uptake of off-grid solar energy and contribute to the low-carbon restructuring of urban infrastructure systems. 

Through this research, Dr Robin will seek to develop new theoretical and empirical insights about the ways in which finance shapes urban low-carbon transformations. In doing so, she hopes to address the limitations of prevailing Northern theorisations of green financialisation and large-scale infrastructural restructuring, which bear limited relevance in cities where informal economies prevail and where infrastructure networks have a limited reach and perform poorly. This project will focus instead on how the interaction of market/non-market finance mediates low-carbon transformations through solar technologies’ deployment and on how these processes influence the reproduction of urban life off-the-grid.

To understand processes of financial mediation, Dr Robin will investigate how low-and-middle income households can access and mobilise both formal market finance (e.g. loans, grants) and non-market finance (e.g. community savings, table lending) to acquire off-grid solar energy products, with fieldwork planned in Accra (Ghana) and Cotonou (Benin). 

This project will build synergies with other research programmes at the Urban Institute, including our dedicated research clusters Climate Urbanism, led by Professor Vanesa Castán Broto and Infrastructures in Action, led by Dr Jonathan Silver. It will also build on Dr Robin’s ongoing work on community energy Ghana (in partnership with the University of Ghana), and Professor Castán Broto GCRF grant Community Energy Systems for Just Energy Transitions in East Africa (CESET).