Urban Transformation in South Africa through co-designing energy services provision pathways

This research is investigating the role of municipalities in the distribution of electricity in South African cities and the unusual barriers which exist to impede the creation of governance/management structures to facilitate pathways to low carbon urban energy configurations. In South Africa, the energy transition has arguably been stifled by a dependence on cheap and plentiful reserves of coal; the pervasive impact of apartheid-era energy policy; and a funding model for pro-poor energy supply dependent upon cross-subsidy, which is undermined by energy efficiencies and renewable energy. My role in this research has been to develop an understanding of the historical evolution of urban energy systems configurations and policies within local government structures, and the implications of potential reform on planning policy, infrastructural delivery and governance. The research is led by Dr Federico Caprotti (University of Exeter) as Principal Investigator and has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council/South African National Research Foundation Newton Fund (ES/N014138/1). This research is a collaborative project between the University of Cape Town, University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, Sustainable Energy Africa, University of Manchester and the University of Sussex.

ESSEX, S. & de GROOT, J. (2019) Understanding energy transitions: the changing versions of the modern infrastructure ideal and the ‘energy underclass’ in South Africa, 1860-2019, Energy Policy, 133, 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.enpol.2019.110937

de GROOT, J. & ESSEX, S. (2018) Energy transitions in urban South Africa, 1860-2017: Energy Justice and the changing ‘energy underclass’, 7th Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) conference on Transforming Energy Access, Session on Energy Justice, University of Loughborough, 30 May-1 June 2018. 

ESSEX, S. & de GROOT, J. (2017) Understanding Energy Transitions in Urban South Africa, 1860-2017, RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017, Imperial College, London, 29 August – 1 September, 2017. 

ESSEX, S. & de GROOT, J. (2017) Sixty years of energy transition in urban South Africa: the changing ‘energy underclass’, Strategies for Sustainable Energy Transitions in urban Sub-Saharan Africa International Research Conference, Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana and Energy Institute, University College London, Accra, 19-20 June, 2017.

University members