Archive of Topic: East and Southeast Asia

Laos Energy Modeling and Policy Analysis (LEMPA) Project

Meet the Laos Energy Mod­el­ing and Pol­icy Analy­sis (Under­grad­u­ate!) Team:

The focus of this inter-​​disciplinary and inter-​​university research group is to develop sus­tain­able energy, water, and land-​​use sce­nar­ios for Laos, and to work with local stake-​​holders on the costs and ben­e­fits for com­mu­ni­ties, the nation, and the regional com­merce in energy, water, food, tim­ber and other commodities.

Aadi­tee Kudrimoti

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 8.21.05 AMBio: Aadi­tee is a fourth-​​year at UC Berke­ley study­ing polit­i­cal sci­ence and pub­lic pol­icy with a con­cen­tra­tion in energy, devel­op­ment, and inter­na­tional rela­tions. Aadi­teeis orig­i­nally from Tuc­son, Ari­zona, where she began to develop an inter­est in inter­na­tional envi­ron­men­tal affairs. At UC Berke­ley, Aadi­teeis work­ing on projects in the polit­i­cal econ­omy of Chi­nese devel­op­ment finance, rural elec­tri­fi­ca­tion, and col­lec­tive action. Aadi­tee­has become espe­cially inter­ested in how the rise of renew­able tech­nol­ogy is influ­enc­ing energy diplo­macy around the world. She hopes to pur­sue a career in acad­e­mia and pub­lic pol­icy and work on gov­er­nance tools to build the bar­gain­ing capac­ity of LDCs against MNCs, for­eign state-​​owned enter­prises, etc. on the sub­ject of FDI and other types of invest­ment. She sees SWITCH-​​Laos as hav­ing the poten­tial to serve as a crit­i­cal tool in assist­ing the increase of the Lao people’s bar­gain­ing power over FDI in the energy sec­tor and thus their auton­omy in deter­min­ing their own eco­nomic devel­op­ment. Out­side school, Aaditee’s inter­ests include dance, food jour­nal­ism, and cooking.


Alex Lathem

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 8.20.29 AMBio: Alex Lathem is a third-​​year under­grad­u­ate at Yale Uni­ver­sity. He is a physics major with sev­eral years of expe­ri­ence using pro­gram­ming lan­guages, includ­ing Python SQL, C, and Bash, to ana­lyze sci­en­tific data. Pre­vi­ous research projects Alex has worked on include astrom­e­try of near-​​Earth aster­oids and the cre­ation of a Hub­ble curve through the analy­sis of Type Ia super­novae. Alex spent the sum­mer of 2019 work­ing on the SWITCH model for China, and is very excited to apply the skills he learned there to a ver­sion for Laos. Out­side of research, Alex is also inter­ested in music, video game design, lin­guis­tics, and history.


Ash­ley Yip

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 8.19.15 AMBio: Ash­ley is a second-​​year under­grad­u­ate study­ing envi­ron­men­tal sci­ence with an empha­sis in global pol­i­tics. She moved to New Mex­ico, where she devel­oped an inter­est in envi­ron­men­tal affairs. At UC Berke­ley, she is involved in a pre-​​law asso­ci­a­tion that helped her explore her inter­est in law and how she may inte­grate that into envi­ron­men­tal­ism. Off cam­pus, she is work­ing on a sex edu­ca­tion reform project in Sin­ga­pore with the Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion. She is con­stantly explor­ing the inter­sec­tion between pol­icy, edu­ca­tion, and the envi­ron­ment. She hopes to return home to Sin­ga­pore and pur­sue a career in inter­na­tional envi­ron­men­tal pol­icy or law within South­east Asia. Ash­ley chose to work on SWITCH-​​Laos not only because green­ing ASEAN’s eco­nomic devel­op­ment is essen­tial to tack­ling cli­mate change, but also because she is famil­iar with the demo­graphic. She has done research in regards to both urban and rural agri­cul­ture in Asia and the US, and led research for envi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment in busi­ness oper­a­tions. Out­side of school, her inter­ests include climb­ing, hik­ing, piano, and camper vans.

Rachel Ng

Screen Shot 2019-09-21 at 8.18.18 AM

Bio: Rachel is a second-​​year Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence and Data Sci­ence major. A Singapore-​​native, Rachel describes that SWITCH-​​Laos extremely impor­tant to her because it is an impor­tant step towards the energy secu­rity of South­east Asia. She believes that the sus­tain­able elec­tri­fi­ca­tion of South­east Asia is key to regional grid sta­bil­ity and energy trade. She is pur­su­ing SWITCH-​​Laos as crit­i­cal in lead­ing the way towards sus­tain­able elec­tri­fi­ca­tion. Rachel is inter­ested in the inter­sec­tion­al­ity between cli­mate change and com­mu­nity, explor­ing how com­mu­nity based issues caused by cli­mate change can be alle­vi­ated through data. Fur­ther­more, Rachel is cur­rently con­cerned about equal access to edu­ca­tion and vol­un­teers weekly as a men­tor to ele­men­tary school stu­dents. In the future, she hopes to return to Sin­ga­pore and guide envi­ron­men­tal change through cre­at­ing an ecosys­tem of sus­tain­able com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses. Her hob­bies include dance, rock climb­ing and water sports.

Ziming Ma

马子明  Zim­ing Ma
博士生  Ph.D Student
Dept. Elec­tri­cal Engi­neer­ing and Applied Elec­tronic Technology
Tsinghua Uni­ver­sity
Zim­ing is a vis­it­ing doc­toral stu­dent who will be work­ing on clean energy sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, and mar­kets in and for China as part of RAEL’s work with sev­eral part­ner insti­tu­tions in China.

Siddique, Samira

Samira Sid­dique is an MS/​PhD can­di­date in the Energy and Resources Group. Her stud­ies focus on the inter­con­nected social, eco­nomic, and phys­i­cal processes of urban­iza­tion and cli­mate change in Asia. She was pre­vi­ously an inter­na­tional devel­op­ment researcher at Math­e­mat­ica Pol­icy Research, where her work included an eval­u­a­tion of the Global Pro­to­col for Community-​​scale Green­house Gas Emis­sions in cities world­wide. Prior to that, she was a researcher at the Inter­na­tional Cen­tre for Cli­mate Change and Devel­op­ment in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. She received her BA from Wes­leyan Uni­ver­sity in the Col­lege of Social Stud­ies and the Col­lege of the Envi­ron­ment.  Samira has inter­ests in energy in con­flict set­tings,  and in urban cli­mate adaptation.


A 2018 paper sum­ma­riz­ing her research focus can be found in The Dhaka Tri­bune, hereand in the RAEL Pub­li­ca­tions Direc­tory.

He, Gang

Gang He is now an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor in the
Stony Brook University
E-​​mail: Gang.He [at] stony​brook​.edu
While a doc­toral stu­dent in RAEL and ERG, Gang He was also a Vis­it­ing Fac­ulty Affil­i­ate for the China Energy Group, Energy Tech­nolo­gies Area, at Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab­o­ra­tory, as well as an Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor in the Depart­ment of Tech­nol­ogy and Soci­ety, at Stony Brook Uni­ver­sity. He has worked with the China Energy Group since 2011. His work focuses on energy mod­el­ing, energy eco­nom­ics, energy and cli­mate pol­icy, energy and envi­ron­ment, domes­tic coal and power sec­tors and their key role in both the global energy sup­ply and in inter­na­tional cli­mate pol­icy frame­work. He also stud­ies other inter­dis­ci­pli­nary aspects of global cli­mate change and the devel­op­ment of lower-​​carbon energy sources.

Prior to Berke­ley, he was a research asso­ciate with Stan­ford University’s Pro­gram on Energy and Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment from 2008 to 2010.

SMART VILLAGES: New thinking for off-​​grid communities worldwide





Key­words: off-​​grid energy; vil­lage power; decen­tral­ized energy, energy ser­vices, energy innovation.


Two crit­i­cally impor­tant and inter­linked chal­lenges face the global com­mu­nity in the 21st cen­tury: the per­sis­tence of wide­spread energy poverty and the result­ing lost eco­nomic oppor­tu­nity; and inten­si­fy­ing human-​​driven cli­mate dis­rup­tion. These crises are inex­orably linked through the energy tech­nol­ogy sys­tems that have so far pro­vided the vast major­ity of our energy: bio­mass and fos­sil fuels. Both the energy ser­vice cri­sis and the cli­mate cri­sis have become increas­ingly seri­ous over the past decades, even though we have seen greater clar­ity over the indi­vid­ual and social costs that each has brought to humanity.


The Sus­tain­able Energy Imperative:

The cor­re­la­tion between access to elec­tric­ity and a wide range of social goods is over­whelm­ing. How­ever, access to improved energy ser­vices alone does not pro­vide a sure­fire path­way to eco­nomic oppor­tu­nity and an improved qual­ity of life. In Fig­ure 2 we show the cor­re­la­tions that exist between elec­tric­ity access across nations and a vari­ety of mea­sures of qual­ity of life, such as the Human Devel­op­ment Index (a mea­sure of well-​​being based in equal thirds on gross national income, life expectancy, and edu­ca­tional attain­ment). Other indi­ca­tors stud­ied include gen­der equal­ity in edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­nity, and the per­cent­age of stu­dents who reach edu­ca­tional mile­stones. All of these indices improve sig­nif­i­cantly and roughly lin­early with access to elec­tric­ity. At the same time, the per­cent­age of peo­ple below the poverty line, and child­hood mor­tal­ity, both decline with increas­ing energy access1.




Fig­ure 1: A vil­lage micro-​​grid energy and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem in the Crocker High­lands of Sabah, Malaysian Bor­neo. The sys­tem serves a com­mu­nity of two hun­dred, and pro­vides house­hold energy ser­vices, tele­coms and satel­lite (dish shown), water pump­ing for fish ponds (seen at cen­ter) and for refrig­er­a­tion. The sup­ply includes micro-​​hydro and solar gen­er­a­tion (one small panel shown here, oth­ers are dis­trib­uted on build­ing rooftops). Photo credit: Daniel M. Kammen.

 Fig­ure 2: The Human Devel­op­ment Index (HDI) and var­i­ous addi­tional met­rics of qual­ity of life plot­ted against the per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion with elec­tric­ity access. Each data point is coun­try level data a spe­cific point in time. For addi­tional data, see Alston, Ger­shen­son, and Kam­men, 20151.


Today the gap between global pop­u­la­tion and those with elec­tric­ity access stands at roughly 1.3 bil­lion, with energy ser­vices for the unelec­tri­fied com­ing largely from kerosene and tra­di­tional bio­mass, includ­ing dung and agri­cul­tural residues. This ‘access gap’ has per­sisted as grid expan­sion pro­grammes and pop­u­la­tion have grown.


Grid expan­sion has roughly kept pace with the increase in the global pop­u­la­tion. About 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple in 2013 are com­pletely off-​​grid, and many osten­si­bly con­nected peo­ple in the devel­op­ing world expe­ri­ence sig­nif­i­cant out­ages that range from 20–200+ days a year.   The major­ity of these off-​​grid res­i­dents are in rural and under­served peri-​​urban areas. Cur­rent fore­casts are that this num­ber will remain roughly unchanged until 2030, which would rel­e­gate a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the pop­u­la­tion and the economies of many of the need­i­est coun­tries on earth to frag­ile, under­pro­duc­tive lives with less options than they could oth­er­wise have. Tra­di­tional grid exten­sion will be slow­est to reach these com­mu­ni­ties. Unless the advances in both energy and infor­ma­tion sys­tems that have occurred over the past decade are more widely adopted, there will be lit­tle if any chance to alter this trend.


Advances in off-​​grid systems

Recently we have seen an emer­gence of off-​​grid elec­tric­ity sys­tems that do not require the same sup­port­ing net­works as the tra­di­tional forms of cen­tral­ized power gen­er­a­tion. These tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tions are as much based on infor­ma­tion sys­tems as they are directly about energy tech­nol­ogy. While tra­di­tional elec­tric­ity grids can grad­u­ally pay off (amor­tize) the costs of expen­sive gen­er­a­tion, trans­mis­sion and dis­tri­b­u­tion cap­i­tal equip­ment across many cus­tomers and across many decades, a new busi­ness model is needed to rapidly bring energy ser­vices to the rural and urban poor. Mini-​​grids and prod­ucts for indi­vid­ual user end-​​use such as solar home sys­tems have ben­e­fit­ted from dra­matic price reduc­tions and per­for­mance advances in solid state elec­tron­ics, cel­lu­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nolo­gies, elec­tronic bank­ing, and in the dra­matic decrease in solar energy costs2. This mix of tech­no­log­i­cal and mar­ket inno­va­tion has con­tributed to a vibrant new energy ser­vices sec­tor that in many nations has out­paced tra­di­tional grid expansion.


The com­par­i­son between the util­ity model of central-​​station energy sys­tems and this new wave of dis­trib­uted energy providers is instruc­tive. Tra­di­tional dynamo gen­er­a­tors and arc light­ing per­form best at large scale, and they became the main­stay of large-​​scale elec­tric util­i­ties. The clas­sic util­ity model of a one-​​way flow of energy from power plant to con­sumers is now rapidly chang­ing.   The com­bi­na­tion of low-​​cost solar, micro-​​hydro, and other gen­er­a­tion tech­nolo­gies cou­pled with the elec­tron­ics needed to man­age small-​​scale power and to com­mu­ni­cate to con­trol devices and to remote billing sys­tems has changed vil­lage energy. High-​​performance, low-​​cost pho­to­voltaic gen­er­a­tion, paired with advanced bat­ter­ies and con­trollers, pro­vide scal­able sys­tems across much larger power ranges than cen­tral gen­er­a­tion, from megawatts down to frac­tions of a watt3.


The rapid and con­tin­u­ing improve­ments in end-​​use effi­ciency for solid state light­ing, direct cur­rent tele­vi­sions, refrig­er­a­tion, fans, and infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy (ICT, as seen in Fig­ure 1) have resulted in a ‘super-​​efficiency trend’. This progress has enabled decen­tral­ized power and appli­ance sys­tems to com­pete with con­ven­tional equip­ment for basic house­hold needs. These rapid tech­no­log­i­cal advances in sup­port­ing clean energy both on– and off-​​grid are fur­ther­more pre­dicted to con­tinue. This process has been par­tic­u­larly impor­tant at the indi­vid­ual device and house­hold (solar home sys­tem) level, and for the emerg­ing world of vil­lage mini-​​grids3.


Diverse Tech­nol­ogy Options to Pro­vide Energy Ser­vices for the Unelectrified:

With these tech­no­log­i­cal cor­ner­stones, aid orga­ni­za­tions, gov­ern­ments, acad­e­mia, and the pri­vate sec­tor are devel­op­ing and sup­port­ing a wide range of approaches to serve the needs of the poor, includ­ing pico-​​lighting devices (often very small 1 – 2 watt solar pan­els charg­ing lithium-​​ion bat­ter­ies which in turn power low-​​cost/​high effi­ciency light emit­ting diode lights), solar home sys­tems (SHS), and community-​​scale micro– and mini-​​grids. Decen­tral­ized sys­tems are clearly not com­plete sub­sti­tutes for a reli­able grid con­nec­tion, but they rep­re­sent an impor­tant level of access until a reli­able grid is avail­able and fea­si­ble. They pro­vide an impor­tant plat­form from which to develop more dis­trib­uted energy ser­vices. By over­com­ing access bar­ri­ers often through market-​​based struc­tures, these sys­tems pro­vide entirely new ways to bring energy ser­vices to the poor and for­merly un-​​connected people.


Meet­ing peo­ples’ basic light­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs is an impor­tant first step on the ‘mod­ern elec­tric­ity ser­vice lad­der’ 4. Elim­i­nat­ing kerosene light­ing from a house­hold improves house­hold health and safety while pro­vid­ing sig­nif­i­cantly higher qual­ity and quan­ti­ties of light. Fuel based light­ing is a $20 bil­lion indus­try in Africa alone, and tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ties exist to both reduce energy costs for the poor, and to improve the qual­ity of ser­vice. Charg­ing a rural or vil­lage cell phone can cost $5 – 10/​kWh at a pay-​​for-​​service charg­ing sta­tion, but less than $0.50 cents/​kWh via an off-​​grid prod­uct or on a mini-​​grid.


This invest­ment frees income and also tends to lead to higher rates of uti­liza­tion for mobile phones and other small devices. Over­all, the first few watts of power medi­ated through effi­cient end-​​uses lead to ben­e­fits in house­hold health, edu­ca­tion, and poverty reduc­tion. Beyond basic needs there can be a wide range of impor­tant and highly-​​valued ser­vices from decen­tral­ized power (e.g., tele­vi­sion, refrig­er­a­tion, fans, heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air-​​conditioning, motor-​​driven appli­ca­tions) depend­ing on the power level and its qual­ity along with demand-​​side efficiency.


Expe­ri­ence with the ‘off-​​grid’ poor con­firms the excep­tional value derived from the first incre­ment of energy service—equivalent to 0.2–1 Wh/​day for mobile phone charg­ing or the first 100 lumen-​​hours of light. Given the cost and ser­vice level that fuel-​​based light­ing and fee-​​based mobile phone charg­ing pro­vide as a base­line, sim­ply shift­ing this expen­di­ture to a range of mod­ern energy tech­nol­ogy solu­tions could pro­vide a much bet­ter ser­vice, or sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ings over the life­time of a light­ing prod­uct (typ­i­cally 3–5 years).


Mir­ror­ing the early devel­op­ment of elec­tric util­i­ties, improve­ments in under­ly­ing tech­nol­ogy sys­tems for decen­tral­ized power are also being com­bined with new busi­ness mod­els, insti­tu­tional and reg­u­la­tory sup­port, and inte­grated infor­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems5, 6. His­tor­i­cally, the non-​​technical bar­ri­ers to adop­tion have been imped­i­ments to wide­spread adop­tion of off-​​grid elec­tric­ity, and in some cases they still are. A lack of appro­pri­ate invest­ment cap­i­tal also ham­pers the estab­lish­ment and expan­sion of pri­vate sec­tor ini­tia­tives. Fur­ther­more, com­plex and often per­verse pol­icy envi­ron­ments impair entry for clean tech­nolo­gies and entrench incum­bent sys­tems. Sub­si­dies for liq­uid light­ing fuels can reduce the incen­tive to adopt elec­tric light­ing. In addi­tion, the preva­lence of imper­fect or inac­cu­rate infor­ma­tion about qual­ity can lead to mar­ket spoil­ing4 and is also man­i­fested by a lack of con­sumer under­stand­ing and aware­ness of alter­na­tives to incum­bent light­ing technology.


Test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries that rate the qual­ity of the light­ing prod­ucts and dis­sem­i­nate the results are an invalu­able step in increas­ing the qual­ity and com­pet­i­tive­ness of new entrants into the off-​​grid and mini-​​grid energy ser­vices space. The Light­ing Global (https://​www​.light​ing​global​.org) pro­gramme5 is one exam­ple of an effort that began as an indus­try watch­dog, but has now become an impor­tant plat­form that pro­vides mar­ket insights, steers qual­ity assur­ance frame­works for mod­ern, off-​​grid light­ing devices and sys­tems, and pro­motes sus­tain­abil­ity through a part­ner­ship with industry.


An Action Agenda for Energy Access:

The diver­sity of new energy ser­vice prod­ucts avail­able, and the rapidly increas­ing demand for infor­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices, water, health and enter­tain­ment in vil­lages world­wide has built a very large demand for reli­able and low-​​cost energy7. Com­bin­ing this demand with the drive for clean energy brings two impor­tant objec­tives that were for many years seen as in direct com­pe­ti­tion with align­ment around the suite of new clean energy prod­ucts that can power vil­lage energy services.


To enable and expand this process, a range of design prin­ci­ples emerge that can form a roadmap to clean energy economies:



  • Estab­lish clear goals at the local level: Uni­ver­sal energy access is the global goal by 20307, but estab­lish­ing more near-​​term goals that embody mean­ing­ful steps from the present sit­u­a­tion will show how what is pos­si­ble and at what level of effort. Cities and vil­lages have begun with audits of energy ser­vices, costs, and envi­ron­men­tal impacts. A num­ber of tools are often cited as excel­lent start­ing points, includ­ing the cli­mate foot­print assess­ment tools like http://​cool​cli​mate​.berke​ley​.edu, and the HOMER soft­ware pack­age (http://​www​.home​ren​ergy​.com) used by many groups to design both local mini-​​grids and to plan and cost out off-​​grid energy options


  • Empower vil­lages as both design­ers and as con­sumers of local­ized power: Vil­lage solu­tions nec­es­sar­ily vary greatly, but clean energy resource assess­ments, eval­u­a­tion of the needed infra­struc­ture invest­ment, and, most often neglected but most impor­tant, the social struc­tures around which suf­fi­cient train­ing exists to make the vil­lage energy sys­tem a suc­cess.   In a pilot in rural Nicaragua, once the assess­ment was com­plete8 move­ment from eval­u­a­tion to imple­men­ta­tion quickly became a goal of both the com­mu­nity and a local com­mer­cial plant.


  • Make equity a cen­tral design con­sid­er­a­tion: Com­mu­nity energy solu­tions have the poten­tial to lib­er­ate women entre­pre­neurs and dis­ad­van­taged eth­nic minori­ties by tai­lor­ing user-​​materials and energy plans to meet the cul­tural and lin­guis­tic needs of these com­mu­ni­ties. National pro­grammes often ignore busi­ness spe­cial­ties, cul­tur­ally appro­pri­ate cook­ing and other home energy needs. Think­ing explic­itly about this is both good busi­ness and makes the solu­tions much more likely to be adopted.


Ref­er­ences & Fur­ther Reading:

  1.  Alstone, Peter, Ger­shen­son, Dim­itry and Daniel K. Kam­men (2015) Decen­tral­ized energy sys­tems for clean elec­tric­ity access, , , 305 – 314.
  2. Alstone, Peter, Ger­shen­son, Dim­itry and Daniel K. Kam­men (2015) Decen­tral­ized energy sys­tems for clean elec­tric­ity access, Nature Cli­mate Change, 5, 305 – 314.
  3. Zheng, Cheng and Kam­men, Daniel (2014) An Innovation-​​Focused Roadmap for a Sus­tain­able Global Pho­to­voltaic Indus­try, Energy Pol­icy, 67, 159–169.
  4. Daniel Schnitzer, Deepa Shinde Louns­bury, Juan Pablo Car­vallo, Ran­jit Desh­mukh, Jay Apt, and Daniel M. Kam­men (2014) Micro­grids for Rural Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion: A crit­i­cal review of best prac­tices based on seven case stud­ies (United National Foun­da­tion: New York, NY). http://​ener​gy​ac​cess​.org/​i​m​a​g​e​s​/​c​o​n​t​e​n​t​/​f​i​l​e​s​/​M​i​c​r​o​g​r​i​d​s​R​e​p​o​r​t​F​I​N​A​L​_​h​i​g​h​.​pdf
  1. Casil­las, C. and Kam­men, D. M. (2010) The energy-​​poverty-​​climate nexus, Sci­ence, 330, 1182
  2. Azevedo, I. L., Mor­gan, M. G. & Mor­gan, F. (2009) The tran­si­tion to solid-​​state light­ing. Pro­ceed­ings of the IEEE 97, 481–510 (2009).
  3. Mil­eva, A., Nel­son, J. H., John­ston, J., and Kam­men, D. M. (2013) Sun­Shot Solar Power Reduces Costs and Uncer­tainty in Future Low-​​Carbon Elec­tric­ity Sys­tems, Envi­ron­men­tal Sci­ence & Tech­nol­ogy, 47 (16), 9053 – 9060.
  4. Sova­cool, B. K. The polit­i­cal econ­omy of energy poverty: A review of key chal­lenges. Energy for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment 16, 272–282 (2012).
  5. SE4ALL. (2013) Global Track­ing Frame­work (United Nations Sus­tain­able Energy For All, New York, NY).


Clean Energy Solutions for Borneo

Rapid eco­nomic growth sus­tained in South­east Asia through­out the new mil­len­nium has led to a surge in large-​​scale infra­struc­ture projects to facil­i­tate indus­trial pro­duc­tiv­ity and con­sump­tion. The state of Sarawak, located along the north­ern coast of the island of Bor­neo, is the poor­est and most rural state in Malaysia but has long been a focal point for the devel­op­ment of large-​​scale hydro­elec­tric power. At least six dams are sched­uled to be com­pleted in Sarawak by 2020 as part of a high hydro-​​potential cor­ri­dor in cen­tral Sarawak. These forests have undis­puted global and local sig­nif­i­cance eco­log­i­cally, bio­log­i­cally and culturally.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with local grass-​​roots renew­able project devel­op­ers and river pro­tec­tion groups we have explored the poten­tial for clean energy alter­na­tives in the state through an inte­gra­tion of mod­el­ing tools: (a) mod­el­ing long-​​term util­ity scale elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion alter­na­tives in East Malaysia to deter­mine trade-​​offs across dif­fer­ent tech­nolo­gies; (b) explor­ing the poten­tial for rural com­mu­ni­ties in dam-​​affected areas to sat­isfy energy access needs using local resources; © demon­strat­ing a rapid assess­ment method for esti­mat­ing the impact of mega-​​projects on bio­di­ver­sity. Each of these stud­ies pro­vides infor­ma­tion use­ful to the dis­cus­sion of alter­na­tives and fur­thers the analy­sis of green econ­omy costs and ben­e­fits. Our pub­lished find­ings have influ­enced pol­icy dis­cus­sions at the Min­is­te­r­ial level and a mora­to­rium against the Baram Dam was announced in 2015.


Media cov­er­age of our research and the Baram Dam Moratorium: 

The Bor­neo Project, March 21, 2016 — Fan­tas­tic new video on “Devel­op­ment with­out destruc­tion” in Sarawak.

Mongabay, Octo­ber 20, 2015 — Indige­nous anti-​​dam activists con­verge in Sarawak from around the globe

Sarawak Report, Sep­tem­ber 25, 2015 — BMF Press State­ment: Vic­tory, Mora­to­rium on the Baram Dam in Malaysia

The Bor­neo Post, Sep­tem­ber 27, 2015 — Small is Beau­ti­ful: The Peo­ple Matter


Media cov­er­age of our June 28, 2015 press con­fer­ence in Kuch­ing, Sarawak:

The Bor­neo Post, August 11, 2015 - Ade­nan wants SEB to light up the rural areas

The Malaysian Insider, July 31, 2015 - Ade­nan puts Baram dam on hold, agrees to lis­ten to natives’ grouses

Radio Free Sarawak, July 15, 2015 - “Sjotveit should be out”, say Sarawakians

The Malaysian Insider, July 14, 2015 - Stop Baleh dam ten­der until envi­ron­men­tal study scru­ti­nised, says Sarawak PKR

Mongabay​.com, July 8, 2015 - Sarawak can meet energy needs with­out mega-​​dams: report

BFM 89.9 — The Busi­ness Sta­tion (www​.bfm​.my), Radio and online inter­view, July 3, 2015, Clean energy options in East Malaysia

The Daily Express — East Malaysia, June 30, 2015 - Sarawak Mega Dam Project Study

The Bor­neo Post, June 29, 2015 - Bor­neo May See the End of Mega-​​Dams

The Malaysian Insider, June 29, 2015 - Activists say Ade­nan rethink­ing mega dams pol­icy in Sarawak

Free Malaysia Today, June 29, 2015 - Ade­nan May Drop Mega Dam Projects

The May­lay Mail, June 29, 2015 - CM pulls the brakes on Baram dam until he goes through detailed stud­ies, group claims

Inter­na­tional Rivers (2014). Bet­ter Solu­tions Than Megadams for Pow­er­ing Sarawak, Study Finds. World Rivers Review Vol 29. No 2. Page 5.

Ear­lier media cov­er­age of this work on energy alter­na­tives to coal and mega-​​hydropower projects includes this report in TIME Mag­a­zine:

Feb­ru­ary 22, 2011 — Bor­neo says no to dirty energy

Recent dis­cus­sions of the rela­tion­ship between mega-​​dams and earth­quakes has also been receiv­ing local cov­er­age in Bor­neo: http://​www​.the​bor​neo​post​.com/​2​0​1​5​/​0​6​/​2​8​/​d​a​m​s​-​f​a​u​l​t​-​l​i​n​e​s​-​a​n​d​-​q​u​a​k​es/

Program on Conflict, Climate Change and Green Development

For a video sum­ma­riz­ing the pro­gram, click here.

The impacts of cli­mate change are already being felt across Africa, lead­ing to greater nat­ural resource scarcity, which has con­tributed to vio­lent con­flict in Dar­fur (Sudan), Mali, and Soma­lia, among oth­ers. This trend is likely to con­tinue, as Africa is pro­jected to be among geo­gra­phies most severely impacted by cli­mate change. Though the path­way from cli­mate change to greater nat­ural resource scarcity to vio­lence is not a direct one, the risks of con­flict will increase as liveli­hoods are threat­ened due to greater scarcity of food, water or arable land. With lower gov­ern­ment capac­i­ties and lim­ited fund­ing to adapt to cli­mate change impacts, and a rel­a­tively weak con­flict prevention/​resolution archi­tec­ture in place, cli­mate change is likely to have an increas­ingly impor­tant impact on future con­flicts in Africa.

This assess­ment neces­si­tates new pol­icy plan­ning and devel­op­ment think­ing. Despite the threats, the broader global inter­est in cli­mate change also presents sig­nif­i­cant oppor­tu­ni­ties to mobi­lize new inter­est and momen­tum for pro­mot­ing green devel­op­ment in Africa. This can con­tribute to an effec­tive con­flict pre­ven­tion strat­egy, and can also drive increased invest­ment and more diver­si­fied economies, improved gov­er­nance and devel­op­ment out­comes, and greater polit­i­cal sta­bil­ity. This project aims to build the the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal case for a new model for green devel­op­ment, which can pro­vide both polit­i­cal and eco­nomic returns, while deliv­er­ing both cli­mate sen­si­tive and con­flict sen­si­tive development.

Our 3–5 year goal is to seed and sup­port a suc­cess­ful “green” pilot in a still to be selected geog­ra­phy in Africa. A suc­cess­ful pilot will require polit­i­cal buy-​​in and local polit­i­cal cham­pi­ons, as well as new exter­nal invest­ment to sup­port green devel­op­ment projects. This can serve as a model that helps demon­strate the polit­i­cal and eco­nomic poten­tial of a green approach, the eco­nomic poten­tial of a green frame­work to exter­nal investors, as well as effec­tive con­flict pre­ven­tion. It is our hope that the model, once proven, will be scal­able in other geographies.

Lewis, Joanna

Joanna Lewis is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and Inter­na­tional Affairs (STIA) at George­town University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of For­eign Ser­vice. Her research focuses on energy, envi­ron­ment and inno­va­tion in China, includ­ing renew­able energy indus­try devel­op­ment and cli­mate change pol­icy. She is cur­rently lead­ing a National Sci­ence Foundation-​​funded project on Inter­na­tional Part­ner­ships and Tech­no­log­i­cal Leapfrog­ging in China’s Clean Energy Sec­tor. Her recent book, Green Inno­va­tion in China: China’s Wind Power Indus­try and the Global Tran­si­tion to a Low-​​Carbon Econ­omy, was awarded the 2014 Harold and Mar­garet Sprout Award by the Inter­na­tional Stud­ies Asso­ci­a­tion for best book of the year in envi­ron­men­tal studies.

Dr. Lewis is cur­rently a non-​​resident fac­ulty affil­i­ate with the China Energy Group at Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab­o­ra­tory. She also serves as an inter­na­tional adviser to the Energy Foun­da­tion China Sus­tain­able Energy Pro­gram in Bei­jing, and is a Lead Author of the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change’s Fifth Assess­ment Report. She was a mem­ber of the National Acad­e­mies Com­mit­tee on U.S.-China Coop­er­a­tion on Elec­tric­ity from Renew­ables and has con­sulted for many domes­tic and inter­na­tional orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing UNIDO and USAID. She serves on the Advi­sory Boards of the Asia Society’s Cen­ter on U.S.-China Rela­tions and the Amer­i­can Coun­cil on Renew­able Energy (ACORE)’s U.S.-China Pro­gram. Dr. Lewis was awarded a fel­low­ship at the Woodrow Wil­son Inter­na­tional Cen­ter for Schol­ars from 2011–2012, and was a National Com­mit­tee on US-​​China Rela­tions Pub­lic Intel­lec­tu­als Pro­gram Fel­low from 2011–2013.

Pre­vi­ously, Dr. Lewis was a Senior Inter­na­tional Fel­low at the Pew Cen­ter on Global Cli­mate Change and a researcher in the China Energy Group at the U.S. Depart­ment of Energy’s Lawrence Berke­ley National Lab­o­ra­tory. She served as the tech­ni­cal direc­tor for the Asia Society’s Ini­tia­tive for U.S.-China Coop­er­a­tion on Energy and Cli­mate, and has also worked at the White House Coun­cil on Envi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity, the National Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion and the Envi­ron­men­tal Defense Fund. From 2003–2004 she was a vis­it­ing scholar at the Insti­tute of Energy, Envi­ron­ment, and Econ­omy at Tsinghua Uni­ver­sity in Bei­jing and in 2010 was a vis­it­ing fel­low at the East West Cen­ter in Hon­olulu, Hawaii.

Nate Hultman, Joanna Lewis  and RAEL undergraduates in Washington, DC

Nate Hult­man, Joanna Lewis and RAEL under­grad­u­ates in Wash­ing­ton, DC

Household Energy, Cookstoves and Health

Bio­mass fuels (wood, char­coal, dung, and agri­cul­tural residues) are vital to basic wel­fare and eco­nomic activ­ity in devel­op­ing nations, espe­cially in sub-​​Saharan Africa (SSA), where they meet more than 90% of house­hold energy needs in many nations. Com­bus­tion of bio­fu­els emit pol­lu­tants that cur­rently cause over 1.6 mil­lion annual deaths glob­ally (400,000 in SSA. Because most of these deaths are among chil­dren and women, bio­mass use is directly or indi­rectly related to mul­ti­ple Mil­len­nium Devel­op­ment Goals (MDGs), includ­ing envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity, reduc­ing child mor­tal­ity, and gen­der equity.


Taking indoor air pollution measurements in rural Kenya

Tak­ing indoor air pol­lu­tion mea­sure­ments in rural Kenya

Making charcoal, Kenya

Mak­ing char­coal, Kenya

Women gathering firewood, Zombe, Kenya

Women gath­er­ing fire­wood, Zombe, Kenya

The Information-​​Energy Nexus for Energy Access

Distributed energy and information (satellite TV) in Prizren, Kosovo

Dis­trib­uted energy and infor­ma­tion (satel­lite TV) in Prizren, Kosovo

Homes built in Juba, South Sudan showing the lack of infrastructure associated with these new units.

Homes built in Juba, South Sudan show­ing the lack of infra­struc­ture asso­ci­ated with these new units.

Making charcoal and mud fuel blocks in Kibera, Kenya

Mak­ing char­coal and mud fuel blocks in Kib­era, Kenya

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University of California
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Phone: (510) 642-1640
Fax: (510) 642-1085


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