Minigrids for Rural Electrification - a Participatory Evaluation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Mechanical Engineering


The inclusion of energy access in the Sustainable Development Goals demonstrates how it is now widely accepted as an important factor in reducing poverty and improving livelihoods. Geospatial modelling by the International Energy Agency suggests that for people in rural areas, decentralised systems, such as minigrids and home systems are the most cost-effective for over 70 percent people without access International Energy Agency, 2017. Research shows that many rural electrification projects are not successful. Both social and technical reasons for failure have been identified Garcia and Bartolome, 2010 and so it is a problem that needs to be considered as a whole system.
This thesis will investigate how both social and technical approaches can be used to evaluate minigrid systems for rural electrification in Tanzania. Whilst research has been completed in both of these areas, this has not taken a holistic approach - considering technical systems as part of a society. This research will use a participatory approach, with the communities and other stakeholders as partners in the research process.
Research questions
Does modelling and planning of rural minigrids in Tanzania adequately reflect how they are used within communities?
What are the wider development impacts of minigrids in Tanzania?
Research objectives
Complete research with a participatory approach, working with the communities and other stakeholders to design and implement the research
Use ethnographic methods to investigate community use and views on the minigrids, including the wider developmental benefits and disadvantages
Analyse performance and usage data from the minigrid systems
Use technical and social data to evaluate minigrid planning, in the context of local policies
In light of findings, compare options for improving the technical performance and the development impact of the minigrid, or for improving the inputs to the modelling of the system.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R512175/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021
1945860 Studentship EP/R512175/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2021 Hannah Frances Mottram