HEED Launch Videos to Mark the 50th Anniversary of World Earth Day 22nd April 2020

On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets to protest about what they saw as a governmental failure to address an increasing global environmental disaster. In recognition of that protest, in 2016, the United Nations chose Earth Day as the day when the historic Paris Agreement on climate change was signed.

This year, Wednesday the 22nd of April is the 50th Anniversary of World Earth Day, but due to the seriousness of COVID-19, there is no worldwide public event. Instead, the organisers of World Earth Day have asked that on April 22nd we take part in 24 hours of action in a global digital landscape with global conversations, calls to action, performances, video teach-ins and more.

It is evidential that more needs to be done to address the continuing environmental and climate crisis. With that in mind, we at HEED will be taking part in this global action by launching a series of videos through social media and the website. These videos document the impact of the HEED energy interventions on everyday lives to tell stories of change.

March edition of the HEED Newsletter is now out.

This month’s newsletter features  ‘Agency of Change: Human Stories’, a series of images by the humanitarian photographer Edoardo Santangelo recording HEED’s work in Nepal and Rwanda from 2018-2019.

In documenting the impact of the HEED project on refugees in Rwanda and internally displaced people in Nepal, these photos give insight into the relationship between energy poverty and technologies in the displaced context.

Access the newsletter here

Update on HEED Conference 1st July 2020, Coventry University, Coventry.

As the UK governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic continually evolves, Coventry University is constantly reviewing how best to implement measures that place the well being of the community first. With this in mind, the HEED conference is still scheduled to go ahead on July 1st  but this might change in the next few months. 

We will endeavour to contact you as soon as possible if we need to postpone the conference and exhibition to a later date.

HEED Team members celebrate World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development on 4th March 2020 at Global Grand Challenge Retreat Workshop

In recognition of their innovative research on projects that contribute to a more sustainable world, Professor Elena Gaura and Professor James Brusey from Coventry University were invited to attend a Global Grand Challenge Retreat Workshop in London on the 3rd-4th of March 2020.

The workshop, spread over two days, brought together around 60 delegates from The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Frontier Engineering Projects, Engineering Grand Challenge Projects, and Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) projects.

This event also coincided with the inauguration of World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, the 4th of March, a designated day to celebrate the role that engineering has in achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals. By setting aside one day a year, UNESCO, with the support of member countries and numerous worldwide engineering organisations, hopes that World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development will raise awareness of projects that are striving for sustainable solutions.

During the workshop, Elena had the opportunity to talk with delegates about HEED’s work and how it was approaching energy challenges in the displaced context in a multidisciplinary way. She and James also found the time to share with other engineers how HEED is building community capacity and resilience through practical applications that reflect refugees aspirations, as well as needs when addressing energy poverty:

‘Coming together with other engineers to discuss and define some of the future grand challenges we face as a global community helped me think about the next direction of the HEED project. Moving forward, I believe that engineers can gain much through socio-technological partnerships, so we can creatively respond to some of the most pressing environmental and humanitarian issues to aid communities to find ethical, sustainable and empowering solutions’.

With less than 10 years to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the workshop was a reminder that in prioritising sustainability, engineers and engineering projects play a vital part in achieving the aims of a fairer, more environmentally responsible world.

Further details about World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development can be found here

Professor Ben Sovacool confirmed as Keynote Speaker for HEED Conference July 1st 2020

We are delighted to announce the keynote speaker at the HEED conference on Wednesday 1st July 2020 is Professor Benjamin K. Sovacool, who will be talking about  ‘Rethinking Energy Poverty and Best Practices for the Governance of Distributed Renewable Energy Access’.

As Professor of Energy Policy, Director of the Sussex Energy Group, and Director of the Center on Innovation and Energy Demand at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, is renowned for his work on renewable energy and energy efficiency, the politics of large-scale energy infrastructure, and building adaptive capacity to the consequences of climate change. Having received numerous awards and overseen notable international research projects, he is one of the most highly cited global researchers in energy and climate policy.

Currently, Professor Sovacool is the lead author on the ‘Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report’ (AR6), due to be published in 2022, and an advisor on Energy to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation in Brussels, Belgium.

Along with Professor Sovacool, other presenters at the HEED conference include UNITAR, Shahnaz Khan from 60 Decibels, a not-for-profit social impact measurement company and Dr Nathan Johnson, Director of The Laboratory for Energy And Power Solutions (LEAPS).

HEED Newsletter Now Out!

The January issue of the HEED Newsletter is now available, featuring:

‘The Importance of Co-design for Sustainable Community Projects’

As the HEED project concludes in Khalte, Nepal, Dr Chas Morrison reports back on community engagement with energy interventions and what it means for future projects.

‘Rethinking Energy Economies for Refugees’ Sarah Rosenberg-Jansen, a researcher on Humanitarian energy, based at the Refugee Centre, Oxford University, UK on shifting approaches to energy economies in the humanitarian context.

Operations, Opportunities and Ownership: The Micro-Grid, Kigeme, Rwanda

Coventry University’s Dr Jonathan Nixon, team leader on the HEED micro-grid intervention, reflects on community responses to transferring ownership of the micro-grid from the project to the people in Kigeme Camp, Rwanda.

We welcome contributions and feedback to the Newsletter so we can offer a forum that generates lively discussion, thought-provoking insights and is making valuable connections.

Save the Date! HEED Conference: Wednesday, 1st July, 2020 9.30 -5.00 Coventry University, UK

HEED is hosting a free one day conference on Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 9.30-5.00. The conference aims to share and debate HEED’s findings on designs and community co-design processes and planning tools for sustainable energy interventions, as well as the data and evidence base built during the project.

The programme includes discussion on methodological approaches to researching energy in a humanitarian context, the role of displaced communities in devising energy solutions that are fit for purpose and sustainable, and emerging community ownership models for energy assets

For tickets please follow the link 

The HEED project features in article in ‘Nature Energy ‘

Sarah Rosenberg-Jansen

Sarah Rosenberg-Jansen, a team member of the HEED project, who is based at the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, discusses the work of HEED in a recently published article in Nature Energy. In highlighting the value of ‘inclusive design’, which engages refugee communities, humanitarian agencies and the private sector in the assessment, design and delivery, the article contends this could aid the implementation of sustainable energy for refugees.

The article can be accessed online for free till January 2020 here and for Sarah’s recent post on ‘ Rethinking Energy Economies for Refugees’ here.

HEED hosts community feedback workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal

On Friday 18th October 2019, HEED hosted a workshop in Kathmandu for representatives of the internally displaced communities, who are involved in the HEED project in Nepal. The event was led by Professor Elena Gaura in partnership with project partners Practical Action. The aim of the event was to present some of the lessons learned through the project, particularly in Nepal, which can be applied not only to humanitarian energy projects but also to other off-grid energy access interventions.

The workshop started with a review of the HEED project, including an opportunity for attendees to view the photo and video exhibition on the journey of the Nepal project. This was followed by a discussion on co-design processes for community energy interventions, for example, the solar streetlights intervention in the camps in Uttargaya, Nepal.

Opening up conversations on the co-design process provides an opportunity for the communities involved in the HEED project to provide feedback on the challenges and best practice, ensuring the development of inclusive, fit-for-purpose and sustainable energy interventions.

This workshop also allowed Elena and the team to find out more about how self-governance is understood and envisaged by internally displaced communities and the meaning of ‘community ownership’ of energy systems to them.

This will enable the HEED project to develop energy design protocols that centre on community-based needs and aspirations, encouraging and supporting long-term sustainable, community-appropriate and transformative energy solutions.

Solar Street lights @HEED Edoardo Santangelo

HEED team delivers ‘interfaces’ workshops in Rwanda, November 2019

Following the installation of the micro-grid in Kigeme refugee camp in Southern Rwanda, the HEED team returned to the camp on the 28th of November 2019 to host a workshop to hear from the community on the current and potential use of the micro-grid and to showcase the user interface designs.

The workshop, led by Sandy Robinson and Vijay Bhopal from Scene, along with other team members from Practical Action and Coventry University, was attended by over 20 participants, including Mesh Power, who installed the micro-grid.

Workshop Participants @HEED.Photo credit: Vijay Bhopal

The function of the micro-grid installed by HEED in Kigeme Camp is to provide energy via lighting and sockets to two nursery schools and a playground. Although the micro-grid is a sustainable energy solution in delivering sufficient energy to the nurseries, the workshop provided an opportunity for the participants to explore the ways in which energy from the micro-grid can be better utilised.

Nursery Building in Kigeme@HEED

As the nurseries are operating seasonally, there are times when the buildings are closed, and therefore using little or no power, however, the micro-grid does not currently have the capacity to add new buildings to the system.

As a result, many participants felt the community would benefit from having interactivity with the micro-grid so they could manage the use of energy more effectively. The discussions illustrated the active engagement of the community in thinking about how best to maximise the use of energy created by the micro-grid.

Directly after this session, Sandy and the team, along with participants, played a game specialised devised to get the participants thinking about energy as a finite resource. Participants had to negotiate and share finite ‘energy tokens’. Vijay commented that:

‘We practised this the day before and simplified it. The participants loved the game and really got it. It was a good way of demonstrating the idea of energy as a finite resource, and it segued into a discussion on how the community can manage the energy resource themselves’.

After lunch and during monsoon style torrential rains, the HEED team divided the participants into two groups to showcase the user interface designs, one lead by Vijay and the other by Jordan Silverman, technical manager at Scene.

In Gihembe – another refugee camp in Rwanda in which the HEED project is also working – an interface board is already installed that are connected with multi-functional solar streetlights, which show through a series of flashing lights when the streetlight has sufficient power to support additional devices.

In involving the community in thinking about an interface for micro-grid, conversations emerged about governance systems, as well as the interface itself. The insights gained from the sessions demonstrate the importance of incorporating information about the ways in which energy interventions will continue after the project has finished into the design process.

Existing Interface board for Solar Streetlights. Could something similar work for the micro-grid? @ HEED.