This workshop is being organised under the auspices of the AGORA project (‘The age of infrastructure: China as a global urban agent’, funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute), which seeks to explore how Sino-centric visions and activities around connectivity and infrastructural development reconfigure relations between cities, regions and nation states.
AGORA investigates initiatives that integrate frontiers of
resource extraction with dedicated centres of production (such as special
economic zones), linked to China via a growing global intermodal logistics
network. It highlights the existence of a particularly urban form of
transregional development, where growth is achieved through connectivities
between economic hubs. Our starting point is that understanding China’s global
infrastructural presence can reveal wider contradictions and contingencies in
the changing planetary relationship between cities, states and market-led
development. The project involves case study work and network building among
relevant stakeholders in academia, government, business and the third sector.
The workshop will offer opportunities for discussing current intellectual challenges, creating a transnational network on the topic, as well as developing joint research funding proposals.
Professor Susanne Brandtstädter, University of Cologne
Presentation Title: BRI and the ‘Chinese Dream’: Roads and Civilizational Projects in China.
Dr Ferenc Gyuris, Eötvös Loránd University
Presentation Title: East Central European perspectives on large-scale Chinese infrastructure projects
Professor Giles Mohan, The Open University
Presentation Title: Below the belt? Territory, infrastructure and development in China’s international rise
Professor Anupam Nanda (The University of Manchester)
Presentation Title: Multi-dimensional Impact of Large-scale Infrastructure on Real Estate Market
Dr Ijlal Naqvi, Singapore Management University
Presentation Title: CPEC, Sahiwal Coal, and the Infrastructural State in Pakistan
Professor Marcus Power, Durham University
Presentation Title: China-Africa engagement and the emergent spatialities of post-development
Dr Alexander Roy, Manchester Airports Group
Presentation Title: Developing the Manchester–China relationship: a case study of Manchester Airport
Call for participants
A limited number of places are still available, and we are able to provide bursaries for early career participants. To express your interest in attending please email Dr Helen Zheng at email@example.com by the 25th October 2019, noting your name and affiliation and a short paragraph about why you would like to attend.
On 23 January 2018, Majd Jayyousi and Neil Simcock facilitated the“Energy, Electrification, Equity: the Role of Decentralised Electricity and Storage Systems in Meeting East Africa’s Community Needs” workshop that was held at Strathmore University in Nairobi. The workshop was organised under the EVALUATE project in collaboration with Strathmore Energy Research Centre.
The purpose of this workshop was to have an interactive discussion around the current landscape of decentralised electricity and storage systems and their role in meeting community needs. Five guest speakers and more than 20 participants joined the workshop from Kenyan governmental and non-governmental organisations, research institutions and the private sector.
Summary of Workshop Sessions
The workshop began with a welcome speech by Geoffrey Ronoh, the director of Strathmore Energy Research Centre. Majd Jayyousi followed with an overview of the workshop agenda. Afterwards, Neil introduced the EVALUATE project and talked about a recently edited book by him and the EVALUATE team “Energy Poverty and Vulnerability: A Global Perspective”.
Session 1: Decentralised Electricity Systems and Energy Storage in East Africa
The first session started with a presentation from Geoffrey Ronoh on the Kenyan off-grid solar energy sector. While the off-grid solar systems market has been significantly growing in Kenya (second after India), Geoffrey stressed that there needs to be more innovation from market players to make higher tier systems more affordable. Geoffrey also mentioned that for the first time donor and government money is going into electrification through off-grid systems.
The second presentation was delivered by Alice Amayo, programme advisor at GIZ. Alice presented results from GIZ solar hybrid mini-grid pilot programme in Talek village in Kenya. Alice also gave an overview of storage technologies in the market emphasising the need for regulatory frameworks for disposal of lithium-ion batteries
This talk was then followed by Dr. Rebekah Shirley, Research Director, Power for All. Rebekah presented evidence from Power for All recent analysis that indicates that there are five policy accelerators for decentralised energy systems such as: national energy policies, rural electrification plans, technical regulation, quality standards, and supportive financial policies.
After the coffee break, the session was resumed by Jechoniah Kitala, consultancy manager and head of energy programmes at Practical Action, Eastern Africa. Jechoniah talked about Practical Action ‘poor people’s energy outlook’ study. In all 4 communities in Kenya, results show that mini-grids sometimes combined with solar home systems for dispersed households are either cheaper than or cost-competitive with grid extension. He also highlighted the importance of community participation and recognising the differentiated energy needs of women and men in energy systems.
The last speaker of the session was Dr. Linda Davis, Director of Strategic Partnerships, wPOWER Hub. Linda discussed essential measures required to accelerate women’s involvement in clean energy entrepreneurship such as; accessible entrepreneurship opportunities and clean energy products, affordable capital for entrepreneurs and flexible payment options, and agency to address cultural barriers for women entrepreneurs.
Session 2: Panel Discussion
In the second session of the workshop, speakers were invited to a panel discussion which mainly focused on energy storage prospects and issues in East Africa. The discussion tackled issues of Li-ion batteries’ falling costs, lack of adequate capacity in companies to install and maintain batteries, proper end of life management and better laws for batteries (especially for Li-ion as lead-acid is generally well handled), and the need for enforceable localised performance standards. One panellist mentioned that from a gender perspective, the issue of battery life comes to the surface, as usually in households women’s needs are met last. On the other hand, panellists discussed the lack of synergy between government entities and integrated cross-cutting visions. It was emphasised that evidence must be made available to policymakers on how electrification is connected to other sectors to utilise public funds more efficiently.
Session 3: Perspectives on Decentralised Electricity Systems and Services
After lunch, participants gathered back for the third session for a mapping activity that aimed to understand how different types of decentralised electricity systems met community needs. When discussing and ranking needs, participants generally considered community electricity needs as top priority. Many people specifically mentioned that public lighting is one of the most important electricity services, especially for security purposes in urban contexts. Electricity for mobile phones was identified as a very important service, particularly since mobiles are multi-functional devices that can be used for banking, news, communication, and access to information which was stated as ‘important for democracy’. The issue of poor products quality (especially for pico and solar home systems) was mentioned more than once when discussing different types of systems.
Session 4: Experiences with Energy Storage
In session 4 of the workshop, the participants engaged in an informal discussion around experiences with energy storage. The aim of the session was to understand available storage technologies, local uses and perceptions, and related challenges and opportunities. Some participants mentioned that proper user education is needed especially in a rural context as improper handling of the system leads to system degradation, overcharging and battery draining. The discussion also included e-waste and battery end of life issues, substandard short-lived projects, faulty system designs, and the lack of unified industry standards for batteries that often have various recommended values for discharging.
The final symposium within the EVALUATE project was held in Manchester, on the 1st and 2nd of February. The symposium featured ca. 30 participants and speakers from across the world. Its purpose was to advance thinking on low carbon futures in relation to energy equity and justice concerns. More broadly, the symposium gave a stronger voice to the socio-material, political and vulnerability dimensions of energy transformations. Recent research has, for example, highlighted the multiple and uneven implications of energy-system dynamics, informed by, inter alia,political ecology, assemblage, precarity, and justice-based frameworks. We see such contributions as only the beginning of a more theoretically-informed conversation on the (re)production of inequalities during socio-technical shifts and transformations. We sought to explore the political moments and materialities associated with the enactment of alternative, more emancipatory energy futures. An overarching aim of the symposium was to draw greater attention to the geographical elements of energy system transformation, by exploring their multiple material and spatial pathways and highlighting the role of contingencies such as place, scale and territory.
The agenda and abstracts of the symposium can be found here.
The conference aims to examine the state of the art on the issue, as well as new research and policy agendas. It includes a public workshop on energy poverty in Greece and Europe on the 6th of March. The workshop starts from the premise that Greece is one of the European Union countries where energy poverty has expanded at record rates during the past decade. As such, the workshop brings together energy poverty experts (policy makers, stakeholders and researchers) from Greece and from the EU to analyse recent developments regarding energy poverty in Greece and Europe more widely, and to discuss options for tackling energy poverty in the future.
There is now a significant body of knowledge on energy poverty, and several policy options have been elaborated to deal with the issue in European countries and at the EU level. However, significant differences still exist between countries with regard to the way in which the problem is viewed and addressed. There is also a need to integrate knowledge on energy poverty in different countries, while identifying and disseminating good practice in the field. By bringing together energy poverty experts from Greece and from several other European countries, we expect that this workshop will produce new insights on how to deal with energy poverty in the specific context of Greece and on how energy poverty research can developed to go beyond the state of the art.
The workshop is followed by a ENGAGER working group consolidation meeting on the 7th of March. ENGAGER has 4 working groups: on integration, indicators, dialogues and innovation around energy poverty.
A number of fully funded participation places are available. Please click here to register your interest.
The recently-launched COSTAction titled ‘European Energy Poverty: Agenda Co-Creation and Knowledge Innovation‘ (ENGAGER 2017-2021) is announcing its first call for Visiting Fellowships (also known as Short-Term Scientific Missions – STSMs). These international exchanges aim to support individual mobility, strengthen existing networks and foster collaboration between researchers. More broadly, STSMs are expected to contribute to the scientific agendas of COST Actions.
In this initial phase, applications will be accepted until the 5th of February 2018. The Fellowships can start from the 15th of February 2018 and should be completed by the 20th of April 2018.
Young researchers – including PhD students and postdoctoral fellows – are particularly welcome to apply. The Fellowships should allow for the development of skills in the domain of energy poverty conceptualisation, measurement and knowledge integration; while generating innovative scientific approaches and developing inter-disciplinary links.
The duration of a standard Visiting Fellowship is between 5 and 90 days. The award usually covers economy travel and accommodation/subsistence. More details can be found in the full call document.
Applicants are encouraged to discuss details regarding the Fellowships (application procedure, STSM objectives, budget, duration etc.) with the ENGAGER STSM Co-ordinator, Dr Nikolaos Katsoulakos (firstname.lastname@example.org).
More information about the scope and the objectives of the ENGAGER 2017-2021 Action can be found here.
The EVALUATE project has issued a policy brief focusing on the overall recommendations of the project as well as a list of indicators to measure energy poverty. The brief is numbered 5/6 as the overall recommendations and indicators were initially planned to be issued as separate policy briefs but for the purpose of clarity and consistency, these have now been combined into a single document. Read the brief here.
The University of Manchester recently launched On Energy, a collection of thought leadership pieces and expert analysis on a multitude of energy-related issues.
Harriet Thomson, Cait Robinson and Neil Simcock wrote a piece for this collection entitled ‘Reconciling fuel poverty and energy justice in a low carbon society’. The full publication can be viewed online here.
Their article discussed tensions and synergies between fuel poverty alleviation and low-carbon transitions. They argue that whilst many policies to reduce carbon emissions from the domestic sector, such as micro-renewables and energy efficiency retrofits, also have enormous potential to alleviate fuel poverty, such policies should be carefully targeted and funded to avoid regressive and unjust impacts. In the UK presently this is not the case, since carbon reduction measures are funded through levies on energy bills that hit the poorest hardest, and entitlements to energy efficiency support for fuel poor households are based on inadequate proxies such as age and income. They conclude with a number of policy recommendations:
Review the ‘cliff edges’ in entitlement to support for welfare measures and low carbon measures
Increase understanding of the barriers and pathways to involvement for vulnerable households within retrofit schemes
Explore the ‘polluter pays principle’ for funding demand reduction policies
Make energy efficiency a key national infrastructure priority
On Energy is a partnership between Policy@Manchester, the Energy beacon, and the Manchester Energy network.
The fourth policy brief of the of the EVALUATE project is now available. The brief outlines some results from a detailed qualitative study with over 100 households in four Central and Eastern European cities, conducted during the winter, spring and summer of 2016. A number of novel findings are presented: the role of stigma and shame in the lived experience of energy deprivation; intra-household inequalities in energy poverty’s impacts (including along gender lines); and material drivers of excessively warm homes during the summer.
CURE researchers had a strong presence at the 2017 RGS-IBG Annual International Conference in London. Alongside presentations given by Stefan Bouzarovski, Caitlin Robinson and Neil Simcock, the EVALUATE team also convened a session on “Energy poverty and vulnerability: developing a global perspective” that allowed worldwide participation via a webinar format, whilst Caitlin convened and chaired a session on postgraduate research into energy geographies.
Stefan opened our contribution with a presentation on ‘Air as an agent of social exclusion: interfacing the boundaries of home’, undertaken in the Thursday morning session on ‘Just air? Spatial injustices, contestation and politicisation of air pollution’. Stefan’s talk explored the ability of air to act as a social and physical agent of deprivation and injustice, via its role in the rise and experience of the multiple vulnerabilities associated with energy poverty. By unpacking the ability of air to permeate the socially constructed binaries of ‘indoor’ and ‘outdoor’ space, Stefan also challenged political and institutional imaginations that approach the indoor and outdoor via separate policy registers.
In the same session, Cait presented on ‘Composite fuel poverty indicators: Revealing, concealing and creating spatial injustices.’ Cait’s talk interrogated how the spatial distribution of energy poverty in England varies depending on the definition and indicator utilised, with different indicators both hiding and revealing specific and geographically contextual forms of vulnerability. She then discussed the implications of this in terms of distributional and recognition forms of (in)justice. In addition, on Thursday afternoon Cait co-convened and chaired a session on Energy Geographies Postgraduate Research. Featuring the latest in PhD and postgraduate research in the domain of energy geography, the session included a number of interesting presentations on, among other things, energy democracy, energy justice and the temporal dimensions of public attitudes toward wind and solar energy.
Alongside those attending the session in person, we also made it freely available to a worldwide audience through a webinar organised by Harriet Thomson. A further 35 people engaged with the session through this method, hailing from countries as geographically diverse as Mexico, Israel, Indonesia, India, Spain, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, and the USA. As well as listening to the debate, webinar attendees could also send in questions and comments that Harriet fed back to the room.
In the first half of this session, Neil chaired a panel discussion with a group of experts featuring EVALUATE’s own Saska Petrova, Marilyn Smith from the Energy Action Project, Jiska de Groot from the University of Cape Town, and Irena Connon from the University of Dundee. In a rich discussion, the panellists debated core conceptual and empirical issues in the study of domestic energy deprivation, including the difference between ‘energy poverty’ and ‘energy vulnerability’, the kinds of theoretical tools that are useful in understand the persistence and emergence of poverty and vulnerability across diverse geographical settings, and the differentiated and unequal experience of energy poverty in different socio-spatial settings. As well as the panellists, the discussion also included input from several audience members and those listening via the webinar, making for a lively and productive debate. The second part of the session took the form of an informal gathering, where we discussed the unanswered and emerging questions for energy vulnerability research going forward.
Last month saw the EVALUATE team give presentations at several high profile events across Europe. As reported in a recent blog post, at the first event Dr Neil Simcock gave a talk on ‘Energy transitions and vulnerability: unpacking the gender dimensions of energy poverty in the Global North’, at The 13th Nordic Environmental Social Science Conference. This conference was held 6th-8th June in Tampere, Finland. A week later Neil presented similar work to Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s ‘Housing Retrofit Group’, in Trafford Town Hall, Manchester.
This was followed by an invited presentation on 21st June by Professor Stefan Bouzarovski during a session on ‘Energy Poverty and How to Tackle it’ at the EU’s Sustainable Energy Week. During this presentation, Stefan introduced the new European Energy Poverty Observatory (EPOV) project being led by the University of Manchester.