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Department of Geography


Energy innovation for low-cost housing in India and South Africa: strategies for inter-disciplinary and cross-institutional dialogue

This interdisciplinary research project, funded by the British Academy Cities and Infrastructure Programme, explores the collaborations and contestations between diverse stakeholders (government, market, communities) in designing, implementing and using innovative forms of domestic energy for low-income urban settlements in South Africa and India. The interdisciplinary research team comprises expertise from geography, engineering, architecture and the Judge business school.

This research explores how low-income communities, private energy entrepreneurs, and government (at various scales) work in contestation and collaboration to devise and deliver affordable domestic energy that meets the long -term needs and aspirations of low-income households in two rapidly urbanising cities, Bengaluru (India) and Cape Town (South Africa). The primary focus is on the role of the three key stakeholders, investigating how government and industry plan and implement energy innovation in government subsidised housing, and the role of low-income households' needs and aspirations in this process.

The research has two overarching aims: firstly, to implement an inter-disciplinary approach that delivers learning across the physical and social sciences; and secondly, to propose strategies that enable divergent stakeholders and institutions to work collaboratively in producing and implementing innovative energy solutions that are technically-, financially- and culturally-appropriate for government-subsidised housing (in terms of both people and product).

Fieldwork is being undertaken in Bengaluru and Cape Town during 2018, comprising interviews and workshops with key stakeholders, as well as community-based fieldwork in government housing projects which are implementing innovative forms of domestic energy.


Principal Investigator: Dr Charlotte Lemanski

Postdoctoral Researcher: Dr Ruth Massey, Anika Haque


Institutional partners:


Pylon   Electricity box