Community Energy Resilience at Loughborough University
Community Energy Resilience
“Energy Resilience” is an increasingly important concept in the context of humanitarian and development action. The difficulty of maintaining and protecting energy infrastructure, for example, has been demonstrated by major disasters such as Hurricane Maria, wiping out energy grids across the Caribbean and in some cases leaving communities without power for weeks or months. Meanwhile, in low-income rural areas that are not serviced by national power grids, communities are increasingly turning to local energy generation to meet their needs.
The focus on community energy resilience represents a departure from the traditional notion that energy resilience is about national systems and infrastructure security. Community energy generation can be from renewable sources maintained by local people, making it more sustainable and more easily repaired following a disaster. As rural communities around the world search for new alternatives to on-grid power, the process of building resilient energy systems is becoming more localised and more complex.
Enhancing community energy resilience
The BRE Trust is supporting Dr Long Seng To’s Royal Academy of Engineering, Engineering for Development Research Fellowship at Loughborough University. Dr To’s project, titled ‘Enhancing community energy resilience using renewable energy in developing countries’, is focused on finding ways of providing affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for rural communities. The BRE Trust is a partner in this project and, since the Research Fellowship was awarded to Dr To in 2018, the Trust has aided the fellowship by participating in development workshops and connecting Dr To with other partners to help grow her network.
Linked to QSAND goals
The aim of this research is closely linked to the goals of the QSAND framework, which also has a focus on using local resources and expertise to develop resilience and sustainability in vulnerable communities. This research will provide valuable insight into ways of further developing the energy component of QSAND, in order to support local innovation in creating sustainable energy solutions. Meanwhile, QSAND will help to frame the fellowship research in a more holistic manner by assessing energy issues within the wider shelter and settlement context.
QSAND will therefore collaborate with project partners in Nepal and Malawi to support the assessment of community energy resilience in the areas identified for research. This research will be led by in-country partners, namely Mzuzu University in Malawi and Tribhuvan University in Nepal. The BRE Trust and Dr To will support this activity and include other stakeholders from the humanitarian and academic spheres, to produce detailed case studies that can inform the development of community energy resilience globally.