Dr Long Seng To

Sustainable Energy. Development. Resilience.

New paper: A systems thinking approach to stimulating and enhancing resource efficiency and circularity in households

Conceptual diagram showing tri-lateral approach in systems thinking for enhancing energy efficiency and resource circularity in households (Ng, K.S. & To, L.S., 2020)

A new article on ‘A systems thinking approach to stimulating and enhancing resource efficiency and circularity in households’ has just been published in the Journal of Cleaner Production. It analyses three integrated household energy supply and waste management models, and shows that switching to solar PV offers significant greenhouse gas reduction and cost savings. Further benefits can be attained by increasing resource recovery from waste.

Read the article here.

PhD Studentship: Integrated energy planning for community resilience

Applications are now open for a funded PhD studentship on ‘Integrated energy planning for community resilience’ at Loughborough University.

About the project

Developing countries are increasingly facing multiple stresses and shocks such as climate change and disasters. Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be maintained without addressing resilience in energy planning at the community level.

Your will work in partnership with BRE Trust and contribute to the Quantifying Sustainability in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters (QSAND) self-assessment tool which promotes and informs sustainable approaches to relief, recovery and reconstruction. The tool consists of a set of questions and a scoring methodology to guide communities in decision-making to promote sustainability and resilience as they recover, and to identify and assess the suitability of solutions.

This PhD focuses on the energy component of QSAND and examines how it interacts with other components such as shelter and water. The objectives are to:

  1. develop a methodology and framework to map the synergies and trade-offs between energy and other critical infrastructures for relief, recovery and reconstruction
  2. apply the methodology and framework to case studies of communities in a developing country, involving fieldwork to collect qualitative and quantitative data
  3. develop decision support tools to help communities and aid agencies to plan energy solutions in a way that enhances overall resilience.

Applications close 19 July 2020.

Read more and apply for this PhD opportunity here.

Recruiting: Research Associate for Energy in Humanitarian Settings

Join the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) team at Loughborough University! We are looking for a Research Associate passionate about clean cooking in humanitarian settings.

1.8 billion people have access to electricity but still cook with biomass. Load shedding, weak grids, affordability of electricity, accessibility of liquid petroleum gas (LPG), tradition, perceptions, poor energy governance, and a lack of suitable cooking appliances all act as barriers to scaling up the use of electricity or gas for cooking – clean cooking. The MECS Programme, is a £39.8 million, 5-year programme funded by UKAid through the Department for International Development.

The Research Associate will support the delivery of the MECS programme with a specific focus on clean cooking in humanitarian and displacement settings. The workstream is split into 3 core work packages: 1) understanding transition pathways for MECS in displacement situations; 2) demonstrate technology, innovation and delivery models; 3) capacity building and scale up. The Research Associate will be expected to lead on work packages 1 and 2 and support on 3. MECS works across 15 priority countries. For the humanitarian work stream, activities are likely to be focused on 3-5 countries.

Applications close on 16 July 2020.

Find out more about this job opportunity here.

Community Energy Resilience and Electricity Systems: Workshops Report

I’m very pleased to announce that a summary of the outcomes of ‘community energy resilience and electricity systems’ workshops in the UK, Nepal and Malawi is now available.

The report gathers together the expertise of 75+ practitioners, policymakers and researchers from 13 countries. We call for further action and research on:
1. Energy system design to improve energy system resilience
2. The role that community plays in ensuring energy system resilience, and
3. The role energy systems play in community resilience.

This project was a collaboration with the Energy and Economic Growth programme and the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network with support from the UK Energy Research Centre Whole Systems Networking Fund. A huge thank you to all the participants for contributing their expertise!

Read the executive summary and download the report here.

New Paper: Decentralization: The key to accelerating access to distributed energy services in sub-Saharan Africa?

Our journal article on ‘Decentralization: the key to accelerating access to distributed energy services in sub-Saharan Africa?’ has just been published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. Drawing on the experiences of Kenya and Malawi, the paper explores the inter-linkages between distributed energy services and decentralized local governance systems.

Read the article 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.

Book chapter in Energy Access and Forced Migration

I am delighted to contribute a chapter on ‘Towards community energy resilience’ to a book on Energy Access and Forced Migration edited by Owen Grafham from Chatham House. The book brings together author-teams of practitioners, academics, businesses and policymakers in an interdisciplinary dialogue about the best way of approaching energy provision for the forcibly displaced.

My chapter, co-authored with Niraj Subedi, develops the emerging concept of community energy resilience. Firstly, we examine definitions of resilience and community resilience and how they relate to energy services. Secondly, we discuss energy resilience in the broader context of the community and the research needs identified during a series of workshops with experts from energy access and disaster risk reduction. Thirdly, we take a deep dive into the case study of Nepal after the major earthquake in 2015, an event that displaced 2.6 million people. Lastly, we will reflect on the concept of community energy resilience in relation to forced migration and avenues for further research.

You can order your copy of the book 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.

Fellowship Inaugural Lecture

It was a pleasure to deliver my Fellowship Inaugural Lecture on Community Energy Resilience on 23 October 2019 at Loughborough University.

You can listen to the lecture here.

Video: Community energy resilience in developing countries

The UK Energy Research Centre made this awesome video featuring the Research Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience and Electricity Systems project which received funding from their Whole Systems Networking Fund.

Read my accompanying blog post here.

UNFC Solar Specifications launched

As a member of the Solar Energy Sub-Group of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Expert Group on Resource Management, I am delighted to announce that the specifications for the application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to solar energy has now been endorsed and is now operational.

The new Solar Specification will accelerate the shift towards solar energy by enabling the reporting and classification of solar projects in an internationally-harmonised way. The next step is to develop case studies to demonstrate their real-world application and to raise awareness of the new standard.

You can access the Solar Specifications here.

International workshop on the New Climate Urbanism

Urban Institute - The University of Sheffield

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.

Interview: Creating a common language for solar in the energy mix

PV Magazine logo

PV Magazine featured my work on the draft Solar Specifications for the application on the UN Framework Classification for Resources for their August 2019 issue.

“As solar comes to represent a larger proportion of the global energy mix, direct comparisons with conventional energy sources, and even with other renewables, are becoming more and more important. This is reflected in a bid by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) Expert Group to standardize reporting on solar energy potential. Long Seng To, Royal Academy of Engineering research fellow at Loughborough University, and part of the UNECE solar energy subgroup, discusses the draft standards.”

Read the full interview with PV Magazine here.

Humanitarian Energy Conference 2019 in Ethiopia

Power2-Goudebou-Practical Action-Edoardo Santangelo - HEC version (c) Practical Action, Edoardo Santangelo

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.

The agenda and concept note for the event can be accessed here.

Draft specifications for the application of UNFC to solar energy open for comment

A field of solar panels.

As a member of the Solar Energy Sub-Group of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Expert Group on Resource Management, I am pleased to announce that the draft specifications for the application of the United Nations Framework Classification for Resources (UNFC) to solar energy is open for public comment.

The new Solar Specification will give financial institutions a standardised way to compare solar energy with other energy sources, paving the way for further investment as costs of solar energy technologies reduces. It will also help industry to accelerate the development of solar energy projects and help governments to manage their national resources sustainably. It will also help us to understand our energy resources on a global level.

The draft Solar Specification is open for comment until 30 August 2019 here.

New summer research student: Kaitlyn Law

I am delighted to be supervising Kaitlyn Law from McGill University as a Summer Research Student with the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network from July to August 2019.

Read Kaitlyn’s blog post about her work me on community energy resilience 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.

Launch of Modern Energy Cooking Services programme

Harriett Baldwin speaking with Long Seng To
Harriett Baldwin, Minster of State for Africa, UK (L) and Long Seng To (R) at the MECS launch. Photo by Loughborough University.

I was really pleased to be at the launch of the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme in April 2019. Loughborough University and the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme will lead this £39.8 million UK aid research programme to find innovative, clean and modern alternatives to biomass fuels, such as charcoal and wood.

Read more about the MECS programme here.

South Asia workshop to increase community energy resilience held in Kathmandu

The second of three workshops for the Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience in Low-Income Countries project took place in February 2019. The South Asia workshop, held in Kathmandu in Nepal, aimed to identify research needs and collaboration opportunities to increase community energy resilience in on-grid, mini-grid, and stand-alone electricity systems. It was great to hear from experts in disaster risk reduction and energy access in the region.

Read more about the workshop on the Energy and Economic Growth website here.

Workshop participants listening.

Webinar: Resilience and reliability of energy projects in Nepal

In this webinar, I present a summary of the discussions from the ‘Research collaborations for community energy resilience and electricity systems’ project so far. I focus on the South Asia regional workshop held in Nepal in February 2019.

Read a full description of the webinar here and download the slides here.

PhD funding for project on community energy resilience

Are you interested in doing a PhD with me on community energy resilience in Nepal and Malawi? A fully-funded studentship opportunity is available at Loughborough University. Work with a great team at the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network and the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology. Applications close 25 February 2019.

Read the full advertisement here.

New paper: Tactic Networks, Crucial Care

Urban Studies Cover

I’m excited that my new journal article on ‘Tacit networks, crucial care: Informal networks and disaster response in Nepal’s 2015 Gorkha earthquake’ has been published in Urban Studies as part of a special issue on ‘Transcending (in)formal urbanism’.

Read the article here.

New briefing paper: Is there still a role for small wind in rural electrification programmes?

LCEDN Briefing Paper 2 Is there still a role for small wind in rural electrification? The second paper in the Low Carbon Energy for Development Briefing Paper series is out! In it, Jon Leary, Alfred Alsop and I explore the continuing role for small wind in rural electrification programmes.

Read the full paper here.

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship

Royal Academy of Engineering logo

I’m truly honored to have received an Engineering for Development Research Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Engineering. I am looking forward to helping communities build decentralised, networked and resilient energy systems!

Read the press release announcing my fellowship here.

New report: Developing a research agenda for community energy resilience in the electricity sector

EEG Energy Insight cover photo/ Power lines.

I have a new paper in the Energy and Economic Growth (EEG) Energy Insight series. It introduces a new partnership between the EEG and the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN), to catalyse new research collaborations on community energy resilience in low-income countries, with a focus on opportunities in on-grid, mini-grid, and stand-alone electricity systems.

The six-month project is supported by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Whole Systems Networking Fund and was launched on 1 June 2018 during a session at the LCEDN Annual Conference at Loughborough University, UK, on ‘Resilience Concepts for Energy’, summarised in this paper.

Read the full paper here.

New summer research student: Harry Jia

Harry JiaEd Brown and I are delighted to be supervising Harry Jia over the next 10 weeks. He is joining the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network as a Summer Research Student (funded through an EPSRC Vacation Research Bursary).

Read Harry’s introductory blog post here.

Talk at UKERC Annual Assembly

UKERC logo

I’m looking forward to speaking at the UK Energy Research Centre  (UKERC) Annual Assembly at the University of Sheffield on Thursday 12th July 2018. Join me at the Networking Fund session for an update on the Research Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience in Low-Income Countries project.

Learn more about the UKERC Whole Systems Network Fund which supports the project here.

LCEDN annual conference 2018: resilience sessions

I was delighted to launch the Research Collaborations for Community Energy Resilience project on 1 June 2018 with two conference sessions at the LCEDN Annual Conference held at Loughborough University, UK called ‘Under the Grid’ and ‘Resilience Concepts for Energy’. I gave a presentation about community energy resilience in Nepal after the 2015 earthquake.

Read more about the conference here.

Talk at University of Oxford

I was very pleased to represent my Nature Energy paper on ‘Mapping synergies and trade-offs between energy and the Sustainable Development Goals’ at the Practical Challenges of Sustainable Electrification in Africa workshop at the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford on 7th June 2018.

Read the full paper here.

LCEDN Briefing Paper Series Launch

 

LCEDN Briefing Paper 1 Lessons from Collective Action for the Local Governance of Mini-Grids for Pro-Poor Electricity Access CoverAs the Editor, I’m delighted to launch the LCEDN Briefing Paper Series with this piece on ‘Lessons from collective action for the local governance of mini-grids for pro-poor energy access’ by Lorenz Gollwitzer and Jon Cloke.

Download the Briefing Paper here.

New grant: UKERC Whole Systems Networking Fund

A grant from the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Whole Systems Networking Fund will enable me to build research collaborations for community energy resilience.

Read the full announcement here.

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