Making Light Work
Access to affordable and clean energy for all is the seventh of the UNundefineds Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The implementation strategy to achieve this goal is closely related to other SDGs such as climate change mitigation, economic growth or the end of poverty. Most developing countries are facing serious energy shortcomings, due to an amplified energy demand, a lack of infrastructure investment and the impact of climate change affecting particularly those countries with a high dependency on hydropower. Making Light Work analyses a new programme, developed by the World Bank, that aims to rapidly increase the amount of energy generated through solar power in developing countries. The Scaling Solar programme, involves creating a “one stop shop” that pulls together the key elements necessary to develop and implement privately funded grid-connected solar projects for delivery of electricity at competitive tariffs. The programme is at an early stage, with engagements in a few countries in Africa and a first roll-out in Zambia.
In December 2016 the Smith School was awarded a research grant by the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme to empirically evaluate the progress being made through Scaling Solar on specific country programmes. The main objective of this research is to identify the key factors necessary for the Scaling Solar initiative to succeed at scale. Our project is based on a multidisciplinary empirical approach combining financial, social, political and technical perspectives. Specific research questions for example are focused on renewable energy auctions, risks related to photovoltaic site selection processes, the impact of utility scale solar projects on energy tariffs as well as the relation between energy supply and economic growth. Within this research framework, the British Academy’s Sustainable Development Programme has provided an opportunity for us to make a contribution towards the global effort to achieve the SDGs.