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Interdisciplinary Research Centre
In Search of 'Good' Energy Policy Small Grants scheme

Following a speed networking session in February 2018 a call was announced for an In Search of 'Good' Energy Policy Small Grants scheme. Energy@Cambridge secured £10k funds from the Isaac Newton Trust/ Energy Policy Research Group (EPRG) to support new small collaborative multi-disciplinary projects lasting 1 to 3 months between 2 or more researchers working in different departments and schools on the theme of energy policy. Each project was allocated an academic mentor from the In search of ‘good’ energy policy (GEP) coordination committee to provide guidance and support.

The successful projects were:


Energy trade, carbon transfer and China’s changing role in global energy governance

Chung-Han Yang, Department of Land Economy               

Dr Jing Meng, Department of Politics and International Studies

They used this small grant to collect research data, to understand the interplay with other experts and maximise the academic and policy impacts of the research. A summary of the outcomes of the project can be divided into three main points:

1. This project produced an interdisciplinary academic paper, which genuinely combines economics, legal and policy perspectives.

2. They co-organised an energy symposium in Cambridge from 30 September to 2 October. Around 40 energy experts attended. This helped building a network between institutions in China and Cambridge University. They agreed on looking for joint funding opportunities to work together doing research on ‘good’ energy and climate change policies for China.

3. They presented their paper at an international energy conference in Taipei, Taiwan in November 2018.

Furthermore, the international energy organisations discussed in this research and the energy-related energy departments within the Chinese government will be good contact points for the next stage of cooperation.


The role of Chinese manufacturing in the selection of technologies and devices related to energy services brought to developing-country projects

Karla Cervantes Barrón, Department of Engineering       

Prof Laura Diaz Anadón, Department of Land Economy

The grant was used to fund a trip to China to visit locations related to manufacturing of LED devices. The cities visited were Shenzhen and Shanghai, where much of the trading and manufacturing is done.

Two industrial exhibitions were visited in each city, in Shenzhen it was the “International Energy-Saving Emission Reduction Industry” and in Shanghai the “International Lighting Fair”, where many companies exhibited their products and showcased their successful city-lighting projects. Apart from this, the visit to Shenzhen included going to a high-power LED trading centre, where most companies do operations. In Shanghai a visit to a manufacturing plant was arranged followed by an interview of two of its workers.

For the visits in each city, volunteers from the universities of Shenzhen and Tongji (in Shanghai) were recruited, who helped with the translation and interpretation of the interviews and questions throughout the events and visits. 

An academic outcome of the research was to establish connections with two important universities in Shenzhen and Shanghai, including a meeting with a former collaborator of one of the grant holders.

From a technical perspective, other outcomes were improving the understanding of the LED manufacturing market in China, as well as the functions and characteristics of the current LEDs in the market. The latter included chips and integration into smart home systems for lighting. Additionally, links with the manufacturers were established and information about some of their products was collected. 


‘Good’ energy-water-food nexus policies in Latin America

Dr Pablo Salas, Department of Land Economy, School of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Dr Sanna Markkanen, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), School of Technology

The grant allowed participation of Pablo Salas in the ‘Regional Political-Technical Dialogue on Energy, Water and Food Nexus’ organised by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), held in Santiago, Chile, on the 14-15 May 2018, focused on connections between the energy-water-food nexus, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the difficulties to implement nexus policies in Latin America.

Pablo and Sanna also organised an interdisciplinary workshop on 26 June 2018 in Cambridge on the topic of energy-water-food nexus, with a special focus on policy implications for Latin America. Academics from Land Economy, Plant Sciences and CISL were invited to discuss their research.

Click here for the workshop programme and the slides from the day.


An on-field market analysis study on contributions of various stake-holders in the rapidly developing off-grid solar economy in Tanzania

Arfa Karani, Department of Physics

Yi Lei Tan, Department of Biochemistry

The grant covered a trip to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania to interview local institutions involved in developing the solar industry in Dar Es Salaam.

A report and video were made on the outcome of the interactions with various organizations involved in developing the off-grid solar electrification market in Tanzania. They interviewed a range of stake-holders in the solar industry including solar home-kit manufacturer Azuri, to learn about the technology currently being used for these products and understand the risks/challenges involved in such a business. 

Click here for a short video.


Interdisciplinary perspectives on the economic evaluation of energy generation projects

Ida Sognnaes, Department of Land Economy

Lucy Goodman, Department of Geography

Ida and Lucy presented at the following conferences:

May 17-18: ‘Science, Technology and Innovation for a World in Transition: Interdisciplinary Perspectives’, Brighton, UK. [Ida attended]

June 20-22: ‘POLLEN: Political Ecology Biannual Conference’, Oslo, Norway. [Lucy attended]

June 25-29: ‘6th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economics’, Gothenburg, Sweden. [Ida attended]

Both Ida and Lucy made several interdisciplinary contacts to follow up with post-conference. These included connecting with a GCRF project on dam infrastructure in India, who Lucy was subsequently able to meet at the DSA conference in Manchester.

Further, Lucy and Ida are in the process of developing ideas around decision-making on energy projects in the UK, India and Norway, drawing on the Cambridge alumni as suggested by mentor Jim Platts. This thinking we hope to develop into a piece for the Conversation, and it will also feed into  blog posts which they are actively compiling after the conferences.