15.S02: Planning, Policy, and Technology for Energy Access in Developing Countries

MIT sloan School of Management & the MIT Energy Initiative

The course introduces students to the complex challenges of providing universal energy access in developing countries. Students learn about the technical, political, and social trade-offs inherent in designing energy solutions that can ensure universal access, particularly for very poor, sometimes remote communities. We discuss several aspects of energy poverty, including electrification, heating, and cooking and review the range of low-cost technologies being developed to meet these needs. Students make use of optimization models to plan on- and off-grid energy systems and learn to use these models within the social, political, regulatory, and financial constraints that may not be easily modeled. The knowledge acquired in this course prepares students to meaningfully contribute to research, technology deployment, and policymaking focused on universal energy access worldwide as well as for future careers in industry, government, consulting, or multilateral development organizations.

Impact and Adoption of Low Cost Solar Energy: A Randomized Field Experiment in Rural Kenya

Eth Zurich Nadel Center for Development and Cooperation

Currently focused on analyzing data collected using sensors that were installed on study participants kerosene and solar lights. We're really interested to know more about light usage patterns among people who do not have access to electricity.

More about the study here or watch the trailer I made about it:

 

RURAL ELECTRIFICATION MODEL

MIT-TATA CENTER FOR TECHNOLOGY + DESIGN

Worked with a team to develop an electrification planning model that can help planners or entrepreneurs in countries where people lack access to electricity make more informed decisions about where to extend the grid or use off-grid electricity distribution technologies.

Before I graduated, I wrote this thesis

More about the Universal Energy Access Research Group at MIT here and the description of the project on the Tata Center website here.

The maps above are from an analysis in my thesis using REM. The first two show how an electrification plan for Vaishali District in Bihar, India could vary depending on whether you assume very minimal household electricity demand (lights, a fan, a TV) or whether you assume a household demand of roughly double that amount. The third, fourth, and fifth maps show how the technology decisions change between those first two scenarios. The final map shows what the plan for Vaishali would like if you assumed a large population increase. Note: These are examples of how different electrification plans might look, not actual electrification plans proposed to stakeholders. 

 

e4Dev

Energy For Human Development

An MIT student group and discussion forum dedicated to exploring the intersection of energy and human development through weekly meetings, speaking events, and a biweekly column hosted by The Energy Collective. The group is sponsored by the MIT Energy Initiative.

 

THE URBAN SUSTAINABILITY ASSESSMENT (USA) PROJECT

PROFESSOR JUDY LAYZER, MIT DEPARTMENT OF URBAN STUDIES AND PLANNING

Municipal Curbside Compostables Collection: What Works and Why
National program evaluation and analysis of the design and implementation of municipal composting programs as part of a broader Urban Sustainability Assessment

 

CAMBRIDGE HOTSPOTS: INVESTIGATING RESIDENTIAL ENERGY USE IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD

PROFESSOR JOE FERREIRA, INTRODUCTION TO SPATIAL DATABASE MANAGEMENT + ADVANCED GIS

Class project using Cambridge residential energy consumption data to predict households clusters that might be good targets for city energy efficiency programs. 

Also, I made this neat gif — it's a timeline showing the age of Cambridge housing stock by year built.