June Lukuyu, UMass Amherst | Power to Thrive: Stimulating Electricity Demand to Enhance Sustainable Human Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
About the talk: The changes we are observing in the Earth's climate are compelling a radical transformation of energy systems to meet the Paris climate agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Considerable efforts are underway to expand renewable energy for electricity generation and consumption, increase energy efficiency, facilitate changes in energy consumption patterns, as well as adapt electricity infrastructure to allow for extensive use of renewable energy and increased electricity loads. While this journey to a sustainable energy future is being undertaken by most, if not all nations, there does not exist a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving this goal. For instance, currently, the average per capita electricity consumption in sub-Saharan Africa is just 488 kilowatt-hours, the equivalent of powering a 50-watt light bulb continuously for a year. Contrary to the energy efficiency zeitgeist in industrialized regions, low-income regions need to increase their electricity consumption density for income-generating purposes to grow their economies and for consumers to realize the full benefits of electrification. An inclusive and just energy transition therefore requires that we simultaneously address the issues of energy poverty, energy security, and climate change. This talk presents findings from a set of studies that evaluate strategies that are aimed at stimulating electricity demand in East Africa in three key domains: off-grid electricity supply, transportation, and agriculture, to drive sustainable human development as well as strengthen the business models of electricity access platforms.
About the Speaker: June Lukuyu is a PhD student in the Systems Towards Infrastructure and Monitoring Analysis (STIMA) Lab at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an Energy for Growth Hub Fellow. Her research focuses on sustainable energy and technology access and use in developing regions, assessing their wider impact on electric power systems, environment and human development. Collaborating with computer scientists, development economists, nonprofit organizations, electricity utilities, and mini grid developers she combines energy systems modeling and analysis, with data science methods such as machine learning techniques, data analytics, and econometric methods to develop and evaluate strategies that facilitate sustainable, and inclusive electricity use in Africa to drive human development while avoiding the lock in of fossil fuel technologies.