Multi-criteria energy system optimisation considering social and political sustainability objectives - Cases in sub-Saharan Africa

  • Philipp Trotter

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


More than 650 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to modern forms of energy,constituting over half of the global unelectrified population. Aside from financial, institutionaland regulatory shortfalls, technical know-how gaps have led to deficiencies in national andinternational energy planning efforts in the region. This thesis, written as a PhD by publicationbased on six academic journal articles, addresses a number of these shortfalls. The first paperconstitutes the literature review, identifying severe methodological and content gaps in energyplanning research in sub-Saharan Africa. The second paper reveals the existence of importantsocial (high sub-national electrification inequalities) and political (institutional and regimetype factors) aspects in sub-Saharan Africa, which are crucial to understanding the region’selectrification. As a result, both the third and fourth paper include different political riskminimisation objectives in novel, multi-criteria energy planning optimisation models of thecontinental African, and the regional Southern African Power Pool, respectively. Building onthese models, a third national-level energy planning model incorporates social objectives ofminimising sub-national electrification inequalities and is applied to Uganda in the fifth paper.The multi-criteria models reveal optimal, and in several cases, comparably cheap social andpolitical risk mitigation strategies. Notably, in all three model applications, higher solar energyshares in the generation mix are the cost-minimal way of achieving politically and sociallymore desirable energy systems. Solar energy’s favourability is due to falling costs, its flexibilityin terms of location, size and type, as well as its decentral abundance in Africa.The sixth paper performs a qualitative analysis of current multilateral African electrificationimplementation efforts. It argues that achieving electrification at scale requires a re-orientationof current international initiatives towards pro-poor strategies, including increased financialand know-how transfers as well as regulatory environments benefitting the local African publicand private sector.In summary, the thesis shows the high importance of social and political objectives for energyplanning and implementation in Africa, and suggests different ways how such factors can beincorporated into multi-criteria optimisation models at various scales.
Date of Award4 Sept 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRoy Maconachie (Supervisor) & Marcelle McManus (Supervisor)

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