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Sustainable Energy Access for Communities

Discover energy access options to help communities move towards a renewable energy future.

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Explore sustainable solutions to address the challenges of energy access

There are 789 million people around the world who live without access to electricity. In addition, 2.8 billion people globally have no access to clean and safe cooking fuels and technologies.

On this three-week course, you’ll explore the meaning of energy access and how to overcome its challenges to provide safe and clean energy for communities around the world.

Since the launch of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the international community has been working tirelessly to address the energy access challenge. But this cannot be achieved unless we find ways to inspire and support entire communities to transition to renewable energy.

To do this, you’ll identify the right technological solutions and the many sides to renewable energy, including technology, behaviour change, economics, and community dynamics.

Examine the use of renewable energy sources

The course will help you address energy efficiency and how communities can save both money and energy with the right solutions.

Examining different business models, you’ll identify several renewable energy and off-grid community solutions, such as solar PV, wind, hydro, bio-gas, and even bio-electricity.

You’ll also analyse a mini-grid case study and look into household energy consumption to understand where savings can be made.

Understand the importance of community engagement

When addressing energy access, it’s vital to consider the ways this can impact the wider community.

You’ll examine case studies and learn innovative techniques to promote community engagement and help you make a change in your community.

Finally, you will take part in a peer review of your plans to help your community move closer to a renewable energy future.

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What topics will you cover?

Week 1: The meaning of energy access

  • Challenges for renewable energy
  • Defining access to energy
  • Moving to clean cooking
  • Alternative energy futures: an integrated approach
  • On or off grid? A debate

Week 2: Renewable energy solutions for communities

  • Energy efficiency: saving money, saving energy
  • Exploring renewable options for communities
  • Analysing household energy consumption
  • Business models for off grid community solutions
  • Mini grid case study and game

Week 3: Engaging the community

  • The importance of community engagement in the transition to renewable energy
  • Case studies in community engagement
  • A citizen’s assembly on energy in Lebanon
  • Creative ways to support stakeholder decision making
  • Planning a community engagement activity

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

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Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the complex levels of access to energy and the relationship between access to energy and meeting the SDGs
  • Assess renewable energy solutions for communities
  • Identify a path to energy transition for you and your community
  • Experiment with energy efficiency
  • Discuss business models for renewable energy solutions
  • Explore approaches to engaging the community to move towards renewable energy
  • Produce a plan for community engagement with renewable energy

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in renewable energy transitions. You could be an aspiring community activist or leader, a professional working in renewable energy, or a government professional with a role in renewable energy.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a Research Associate at Loughborough University where I work on humanitarian energy access. My background is in off-grid solar energy in low-middle-income contexts. I hold a PhD in Energy from UCL

Tash is a PhD researcher focussing on new technologies for clean cooking access in East Africa. She has a background in engineering and has worked in a diverse range of sectors.

I am a behavioural economist based at the University of Technology Sydney. In my work, I explore how behavioural economic insights can help us understand and inform energy choices, attitudes & policy.

I am a Principal Research Fellow in Online Learning Pedagogies and Future Education at UCL Knowledge Lab, IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society, and lead the MA in Education and Technology.

Associate Professor at UCL and head of Engineering for International Development Centre. I was awarded the BBOXX/Royal Academy of Engineering fellowship for improving energy access in Africa.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

The RELIEF Centre

The RELIEF Centre is a transdisciplinary research collaboration that focuses on how to build a prosperous and inclusive future for communities affected by mass displacement.

American University of Beirut (AUB)

The American University of Beirut is a teaching-centered research university based on the American liberal arts model of higher education.

Centre for Lebanese Studies, Lebanese American University

The Centre for Lebanese Studies (CLS) is an independent academic institution established in 1984 to undertake impartial and balanced research and contribute to Lebanon’s development.

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