Sustainable Energy. Development. Resilience.

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Webinar: Synergies between energy access and sustainable development

I was delighted to speak at the digital Zukunftssalon as part of the “The Forces of Transformation” series on 6th October 2022 to dive deeper in to the topic of “Deploying the synergies between energy access and sustainable development” hosted by WISIONS of Sustainability at the Wuppertal Institute.

Vice-Chancellor’s Annual Awards

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards Ceremony 2022. Photo by Loughborough University

The Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment and Resilience (STEER) was awarded a prestigious Loughborough University Vice-Chancellor’s Annual Award 2022 for international engagement and impact. I am very proud of the STEER team and our incredible network of partners working towards sustainable development. The award citation reads:

STEER hosts projects which between them have received over £90 million of investment from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office, Royal Academy of Engineering and others.

The Co-Directors of STEER, Professors Ed Brown and Mark Howells and Dr Long Seng To, are building in partnership with governments and third sector partners around the world, including the World Bank and the United Nations, leading edge research projects which are having a significant effect on the mitigation of climate change globally. Much of the research activity is embedded in lower- and middle-income countries and is a model of working in partnership with communities.

Read more about the Vice-Chancellor’s Annual Awards here.

31st Session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy

It was a pleasure to speak at the 31st Session of the Committee on Sustainable Energy at the UN Economic Commission for Europe on 21-23 September 2022. The overall theme for this year was energy security, resilience and net zero. I presented on the opportunities and challenges of including renewable in the natural resource base in the session on modernising resource management.

Read the full documentation for the meeting (including my presentation slides) here.

Royal Academy of Engineering Fellows Day 2022

Long Seng To speaking at Royal Academy of Engineering Fellows’ Day 2022. Photo credit: Lucy Wheeler

As an Engineering for Development Research Fellow, it was an honour to present my work on the role of communities in energy resilience at the Royal Academy of Engineering Fellows’ Day on 17th May 2022. The event was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Academy’s work, especially on sustainable society and inclusive economy.

Read more about the Fellows’ Day here.

Webinar: Setting the Scene for Maximizing Impacts of Energy Access

It was a pleasure to speak in the webinar on ‘Setting the Scene: Maximizing the impacts of energy access on people’s development opportunities’ hosted by WISIONS of Sustainability and the ACCESS Coalition on 24th March 2022.

This webinar is the first part of the Webinar Series on how to maximize the development effects of energy access. It is increasingly recognized, that energy is inextricably linked to virtually all the SDGs. While there is an active debate on approaches to accelerate the achievement of universal energy access goal, there has been less attention to the question of how to maximize the development effects of energy access. This first webinar set the scene for the whole webinar series by exploring crucial aspects for maximizing contributions to multiple SDGs.

Read about the discussion and download further resources here.

Euro-CASE Annual Conference 2021

It was wonderful to join the discussions at Engineering to build back better, the 2021 annual conference of Euro-CASE, the European Council of Academies of Applied Sciences, Technologies and Engineering. I took part in a panel discussion on ‘Engineering a resilient future’ on 25th November 2021. Panelists included:

  • Professor Roger Kemp MBE FREng, RAEng Engineering X Safer Complex Systems Advisory Board Chair
  • Anne-Marie Eklund Löwinder, Swedish Academy of Engineering
  • Carsten Orth Gaarn-Larsen, Senior Vice President, Technical University of Denmark
  • Dr Long Seng To, RAEng Engineering for Development Research Fellow, Loughborough University
  • Dr Elena Fersman, VP, Head of Global AI Accelerator, Ericsson

Access the conference programme and recordings here.

Keynote to launch Let Communities Lead report

I was very pleased to deliver the keynote speech at the launch of the Let Communities Lead: Stories and lessons on grassroots energy initiatives for sustainable futures report on 18th November 2021.

Community-based and inclusive renewable energy systems in underserved and marginalized communities are advancing rapidly around the world. The global initiative “Let communities lead” is an advocacy effort for increased empowerment, local ownership, and self-governance capacities. The initiative is launched by the Center for Energy and Society of the Arizona State University (ASU) and the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

Read more about Let Communities Lead here.

STEER Centre launch at COP26

I am delighted to be appointed Co-Director of the new Centre for Sustainable Transitions: Energy, Environment and Resilience (STEER) at Loughborough University. STEER was launched during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on 4th November 2021. Our mission is to accelerate the transition to inclusive, sustainable and resilient energy systems through innovative research, analysis and capacity building.

Read more about the launch here.

Zero Emissions Solutions Conference at COP26

It was great to speak at the 2021 Zero Emissions Solutions Conference (ZESC) in the virtual exhibition space at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). Hosted by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the ZESC brought together leaders and scientists from businesses, governments, and academia from around the world. Taking place on sidelines of COP26, the ZESC hosted up to fifteen sessions featuring distinguished speakers who will showcase solutions relevant to the high-level champions thematic days including policy technology solutions for: finance, energy, youth, and nature.

I spoke on ‘How community energy resilience can ensure economic development’ at a session dedicated to ‘How the demand for energy is underpinning economic development’ on 3rd November 2021.

SDG 7 Pavilion at COP26

It was a great honour to speak at the SDG7 Pavilion at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 1st November 2021. The session focused on ‘How do we scale low carbon cooking?’ and was hosted by Sustainable Energy for All. I highlight how the UN Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) can help to scale low carbon cooking and shift investments into the sector. The session was chaired by Steven Hunt (FCDO) and speakers included:

  • Ambassador Dr Monica Juma (Cabinet Secretary Energy, Kenya),
  • Joint Secretary Ram Gopal Kharbuja (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation (MoEWRI), Nepal), 
  • Anne Songole (ACCESS Coalition), 
  • Simon Batchelor (Modern Energy Cooking Services/Gamos), 
  • Ben Jeffreys (ATEC*),
  • Irene Wanjohi (Kenya Power)
  • Long Seng To (Loughborough University/UN Expert Group on Resource Management).
From left to right: Steven Hunt (FCDO), Ambassador Monica Juma (Cabinet Secretary Energy, Kenya), Ram Gopal Kharbuja (Joint Secretary, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation (MoEWRI), Nepal), Long Seng To (Loughborough University, UN Expert Group on Resource Management), Anne Songole (ACCESS Coalition). Photo: Biraj Gautam/PEEDA, 2021

Watch the session here (starting from 18:30 in the recording).

Seminar at University of Birmingham

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It was wonderful to present a seminar on ‘Energy resilience in the Global South’ hosted by the School of Chemical Engineering, part of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham on 27th October 2021. I really enjoyed meeting staff and students working on energy and other topics.

Net Zero Futures 21 Conference

It was great to join the Net Zero Futures 21 Conference organised by the Energy Research Accelerator and the Centre for Postdoctoral Development in Infrastructure, Cities and Energy (C-DICE) on 27th October 2021 at the University of Birmingham. The event was a unique conference for doctoral and postdoctoral researchers whose work contributes to the Government’s target of Net Zero Carbon emissions by 2050. I spoke in the panel discussion on ‘Future challenges for Net Zero and sustainable energy’. The session was chaired by Katherine Jackson and speakers included:

  • Dr Nina Skorupska, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association
  • Dr Long Seng To, RAEng Engineering for Development Research Fellow and Lecturer in Resilient Energy Systems, Loughborough University
  • Dr Yesmeen Khalifa, Research Associate, Keele University
  • Dr Samuel Pering, Doctoral Prize Fellow, Loughborough University

Read more about the conference here.

Going Clean webinar for UK DIT

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It was great to speak about ‘What is the United Nations Framework for Resource Classification (UNFC) to Solar Energy?‘ as part of the Going Clean webinar series hosted by the UK Department for International Trade on 7th September 2021.

Clean energy is emerging as one of the key strategic industries of the 21st century, with global trade in solar and wind related products rivalling that of the trade in oil and gas. International trade in clean energy products and services represents a major opportunity for Global Britain to support partners across the world in tackling climate change.

Going Clean aims to bring clarity to how the clean energy sector is governed, looking at the structure of the markets, the intricacies of the supply chains, the geopolitics of trade, and the expert networks that drive deployment.

In this Going Clean event, I joined Department of International Trade Clean Energy Sector Specialist Dr Richard Hall to discuss the Specifications for the application United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to Solar Energy and how it can lead to greater investment in solar energy.

Read more about the event here.

Webinar: A participatory approach for visualising energy resilience

Thank you to the Society of Circular, Regenerative, and Sustainable Systems for inviting Xinfang Wang, Louise Reardon, Asha Singh and I to speak at their inaugural webinar on 20th May 2021.

Our talk was about ‘A Participatory Approach for Visualising Energy Resilience in Nepal from a Whole-System Perspective’.

Understanding how and in what ways to foster resilience within energy systems is a complex issue, encapsulating a diversity of factors. This complexity creates barriers to effective decision-making towards resilience, where a whole-systems approach is required amidst a relatively siloed governance landscape.

To support decision making in this area, this talk discussed how a bottom-up participatory approach can be valuable in enabling decision-makers and key stakeholders to visualise the complexity of energy systems resilience, and in turn help facilitate the application of a whole-systems approach to the design of sustainable policy interventions towards more resilient systems.

The talk outlined the participatory causal loop mapping approach, highlight the method’s value in identifying the variables and visualising interconnections affecting energy resilience in Nepal, as a case study. Nepal has experienced energy supply disruption from both long-term energy supply deficiency and short-term shocks. The outcomes of our bottom-up participatory workshop with key stakeholders show the significant benefit of using this approach to enable participants visualising the complexity of energy systems resilience and creating a shared understanding of ways in which resilience can be improved.

Webinar: Energy resilience in the Global South

It was a pleasure to present a webinar on ‘Energy resilience in the Global South: the vital role of communities’ at the Centre for Data Science at the Coventry University on 14th May 2021. The talk covered the need for research on energy resilience, the vital role that communities play in creating solutions and an overview of my current work in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

You can read more about the webinar here.

UNECE Resource Management Week 2021: Renewable Energy Workshop

I was delighted to join for the Renewable Energy Workshop at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Resource Management Week 2021 on 26 April. The workshop focused on integrated water-energy management and I contributed to a panel on ‘Should integrated energy companies have integrated information systems?’. The panel discussed the value that the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources brings to different stakeholders.

Read more about the UNECE Resource Management Week 2021 here.

2nd Urban Resilience Asia Pacific Conference

I was delighted to organise and present a session at the 2nd Urban Resilience Asia Pacific Conference (URAP2) online on 4th December 2020. The session focused on ‘Energy resilience and disasters in the South Pacific: political economy dynamics, community responses and planning’. The session presented a synthesis of three workshops on Energy Resilience in Pacific Island Countries in 2020 concerning planning and investing in more resilient energy systems, energy resilience and the political economy of off-grid solar and community energy resilience strategies in response to disasters. The session was presented in collaboration with Dr Anna Bruce (UNSW), Dr Iain MacGill (UNSW), Dr Paul Munro (UNSW) and Dr Atul Raturi (University of the South Pacific).

You can watch the URAP2 session below (starting at 17:16:05 on the recording).

Workshop series: Energy resilience in Pacific Island Countries

Resilience in an energy system can be defined as its ability to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from shocks and stresses. Energy resilience in the Asia-Pacific region is shaped by dynamics relating to energy security, transitions, reliability and recent disasters, such as coastal flooding, volcanic eruptions, cyclones and COVID-19. This interactive workshop series on 1-4 December 2020 will open up dialogue on energy resilience focusing on the experience of Pacific Island Countries, as well as exchange experiences with other regions. Case studies will include Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tuvalu and Tokelau, as well as drawing experience from Australia and a range of other countries. The aim of the series is to jointly identify research priorities for increasing energy resilience using grid and off-grid renewable energy in Pacific Island Countries. The three workshops are:

We will bring together insights from the three workshops in a panel discussion at the Urban Resilience Asia Pacific Conference:

The series is organised by the University of New South Wales, University of the South Pacific, University of Papua New Guinea and Loughborough University, with contributions from partners ITP Renewables, GSES and CSIRO. We welcome participants from the Asia-Pacific Solar Research Conference, Urban Resilience Asia Pacific Conference and Geographic Information for Disaster Management Conference. The work is supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s International Engagement Program, the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Research Fellowship scheme.

Download the workshop background paper and register here.

Frontiers of Development symposium: Disaster resilience

I really enjoyed taking part in the Royal Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Development Symposium on Disaster Resilience in Istanbul on 2-4 March 2020. The symposim brought together about 60 early- to mid-career researchers and practitioners from industry, academia, government and NGOs from around the globe in a multidisciplinary workshop.

It was great to learn from so many different perspectives, share ideas and discuss opportunities to collaborate. We talked about emerging systemic vulnerabilities, the importance of governance and supporting wellbeing. We also had the opportunity to learn about siesmic risk in the region during a visit to the Department of Earthquake Engineering and the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute at Boğaziçi University. I look forward to keeping in touch and working with this truly remarkable group!

Read more about the symposium here.

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Forum 2019

Dr Long Seng To standing in front of her poster at the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Forum.

It was great to share my work on Sustainable Development Goal 7 and community energy resilience at the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Forum on 12 November 2019.

You can find out more about the event here.

International workshop on community energy resilience at Loughborough

Participants discussing at international workshop on community energy resilience at Loughborough University.

It was a pleasure to host an international workshop on Community Energy Resilience at Loughborough University in October 2019. The workshop brought together representatives from the partner organisations from Nepal, Malawi and the UK involved in my Engineering for Development Research Fellowship funded by The Royal Academy of Engineering. Loughborough University’s Vice Chancellor, Prof Bob Allison, opened the workshop and featured our collaboration in his newsletter to the university as ‘research story of the month’. During the workshop, we shared experiences from each country, and made progress towards a framework for measuring community energy resilience. We also spent time planning our exciting collaboration in the coming years.

Read more about the workshop here.

International workshop on the New Climate Urbanism

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I was delighted to present a paper on ‘Community energy resilience in the era of climate change’ at the New Climate Urbanism workshop on 4-5 September 2019 hosted by the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield. The international workshop explored the changing relationship between cities and climate change.

Read more about the workshop here.

Humanitarian Energy Conference 2019 in Ethiopia

It was wonderful to take part in the first Humanitarian Energy Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 31 July to 1 August 2019. The conference brought together a diverse group from across the globe, including representatives from NGO’s, international organisations, funders, businesses and academia, working to improve and expand energy access for displaced and crisis-affected people.

Read the conference report here.

LCEDN Conference 2019: energy resilience session

It was a pleasure to host a session on ‘Energy Resilience’ during the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network annual conference at the University of Stratclyde, Glasgow on 2-3 May 2019.

The session was a deep dive into energy resilience from a community perspective. The short presentations by Collen Zalengera (Mzuzu University), Aran Eales (University of Stratclyde) and myself focused on Malawi as a case study. We reflected on the impact of Cyclone Idai, which affected the southern part of Malawi, on energy access. The presentations were followed by discussion on research questions identified during a recent workshop in Malawi.

You can read more about the conference here.

Workshop on Community Energy Resilience in Malawi

The third workshop for the Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience in Low-Income Countries project took place in April 2019. The Malawi workshop was held in collaboration with Mzuzu University and the Civil Society Network on Climate Change. The workshop aimed to identify research needs and collaboration opportunities, and included participants from Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was a very timely discussion as the region recovers from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth.

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