Dr Rupert Gammon
DR RUPERT GAMMON
Dr Rupert Gammon is Senior Research Fellow, based in the Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD) at De Montfort University. He has over 20 years’ involvement in the energy sector in which he has acquired both practical and academic experience in low carbon energy and transport systems. Working in the energy industry, notably as co-founder and Managing Director of Bryte Energy, he undertook consultancy for public and private sector clients, from SMEs up to multinational companies. He entered academia in 2011 to pursue impact-orientated research on responsive energy demand, smart grids, energy storage, hydrogen energy systems, low-carbon transport, energy strategy and international development. He was recently the Principle Investigator for the ESCoBox project, which introduced smart grid techniques into Developing World mini-grids, led DMU’s research team on the My Electric Avenue project, which investigated the smart recharging of electric vehicles, contributed to the Energy Technologies Institute’s 2050 Energy Infrastructure Outlook, and participates in expert groups for the International Energy Agency’s Hydrogen Implementing Agreement.
“A Social Enterprise Approach to Energy Service Provision in Developing Countries”
round 1.2 billion people across the world still do not have access to electricity, almost all of them in the Global South and particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today’s burgeoning renewable energy sector, especially the solar power market, has the potential to address this issue and to democratise the energy sector. However, such progress has been plagued by problems that are often borne out of traditional notions of aid provision as well as outdated ideas about energy service delivery. Until Energy Service Companies (ESCos) can succeed commercially, energy access will remain an intractable challenge in the Developing World that simply perpetuates a dependency culture. The current challenge is not the need for technological advances, but socio-economic ones. New business models are required to make ESCo businesses viable for off-grid communities that are typically some of the poorest and most disadvantaged on the planet. In this context, it is clear that a Social Enterprise approach is needed rather than a more conventional form of capitalism. Through research led by DMU, a system called ESCoBox has been developed that assists in the establishment of ESCos to implement and operate mini-grids, typically powered by renewable energy sources. ESCoBox provides a software tool for designing technically and economically efficient mini-grids, for management of their ongoing operation and to enable their growth, as well as the hardware required to control the mini-grid in order to implement demand shaping techniques that reduce dependency upon expensive yet unreliable batteries. This lowers the cost while improving the reliability of energy service provision and helps to de-risk investment in setting up or expanding energy networks and ESCo businesses.