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University of Bath

Sustainable energy sources for portable, transportable energy supplies in development contexts

A feasibility study on the technical, developmental, economic and policy aspects of sustainable energy.

This interdisciplinary IPR feasibility study brings together researchers from chemistry, engineering, international development and policy studies to develop a methodology for assessing the suitability of innovative technologies through a social-scientific understanding of the political, economic and social context, focussing on the policy challenge of providing affordable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Affordable energy is essential to improving employment levels, health, incomes, educational achievement and living standards among Africa’s poor. However, the African energy market is notoriously inefficient, expensive and under-invested. Two thirds of Africa’s population – some 600 million people – have no access to a safe, reliable and affordable energy supply in their home. Scientific and technological advances offer vital solutions to some of the complex challenges of developing sustainable energy sources in Africa. However, too often the promised benefits fail to be realised in local development contexts. Frequently this is due to the complex interplay of politics, economics, public policy, education and poverty which, together with socio-cultural norms and preferences, defines the extent to which any new science or technology is fit for purpose and can or will be adopted in any particular local setting.

With pump prime funding from the government’s Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF), this study developed cross disciplinary research capacity to situate technical development and implementation within complex local development contexts with the aim of contributing to the successful implementation of affordable and societally-acceptable sustainable energy sources in developing countries in Africa and to develop future interdisciplinary research programmes.

Research Team


Global Challenge Research Fund