ENR-Demos – Energy democracy and the politics of energy transition in African countries is a UKRI GCRF-funded project (Grant No. ES/T006285/1) that aims to investigate what could mean energy democracy in the context of sub-Saharan African countries.
The research deals with the political implications of energy transition in terms of greater participation of the civil society in energy decision processes. The researchers from the ENR-Demos research project want to look at cases of implementation of decentralised clean energy access projects; the research team aims to analyse the modification of power relations that comes with the increase of the share of decentralised energy sources in energy systems. Does the dissemination of new decentralised clean energies lead to more social justice or on the contrary do they perpetuate and even reinforce the marginalisation of the poorest? Does the old bureaucratic scheme of power remain predominant or could the on-going transition to decentralised clean energy contribute to empower the poorest and enable them to challenge the usual top-down processes that are predominant in the energy sector?
The researchers want also to determine how an effective participation of local communities in the design of these projects could enhance their long-term sustainability. Small off-grid systems like solar home systems or mini-grids based on renewable energy technologies have reached technological maturity, but more than often are still far from being sufficiently embedded in their social context to be actively supported by their supposed beneficiaries. And the lack of understanding of local social dynamics around energy access projects tend to reduce their development impact.
The ENR-Demos project blog will be periodically updated with key information about the project from participating partner institutions and organisations, as well as other relevant information about energy democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa and around the world. This blog, like the attached website, is a platform of discussion for the team and partners of the project, and any invited contributors.
Author: Xavier Lemaire