Last week Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School and the Director of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand and of the Sussex Energy Group gave a presentation at the Regional Learning Alliance webinar series. Chair, Lorraine Howe, introduced Ben whose presentation focused on “Rethinking energy poverty and best practices for the governance of distributed renewable energy access”.

[Please note that the reference to the gender energy program in Malawi was in fact Mali].

The presentation was followed by comments from Dr Joshua Kirshner who discussed how Ben’s work connected to the CESET project. This was followed by a question and answer session with webinar participants. Questions included:

  • Improved cooking stoves, of many different designs and materials, have been introduced over and over again in developing countries. Is there data showing any sort of rate of adoption of the technology and the level of failures?
  • You mentioned the challenges around private sector implementation and projects reaching the poorest in communities – what insights on this did you get on this from your project and were their policies/approaches led by the private sector that were more inclusive?
  • How does providing alternative/sustainable energy to nomads, with no formal settlement, work?
  • Are there any policies or approaches (including the private sector) that were more inclusive?
  • Many times projects do not necessarily succeed however they transform the energy landscape profoundly, so do you think that success is the best criteria? Secondly, in relation to postcolonial critiques of development, what extent do western ideals of family and women’s roles influence the design of projects?
  • How did you define success and failure?
  • How do you re-evaluate the success of improved cook stoves initiatives today, with biomass costs increasing and renewable costs plummeting? These trends will only continue, making 100% clean cooking more affordable and healthier.
  • Was there any political/social resistance to any of these projects?
  • Can you elaborate on the example of project champions?
  • How does climate fit into our discussion in energy poverty?

Ben’s power point presentation can be downloaded from the CESET website and if you want to find out more on Ben’s research please contact him at: B.Sovacool@sussex.ac.uk or twitter @BenjaminSovaco1.

The next RELA webinar will take place on Thursday 11th March 2021 2pm GMT. Dr Simon Bawakyillenuo of the Institute of Statistical, Economic & Social Research at the University of Ghana will speak about “Community Energy and National Energy Strategies”. Registration is free Eventbrite.