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School of Geography

Jon Lovett Prof Jon Lovett

Contact details

Room 10.21
School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK


+44 (0) 113 34 33327

Student hours:
By appointment

Work in progress

Five universities from across Africa and in the UK came together on 27 september 2013 in Brazzaville to form an African Clean Energy Research Alliance to create a new network for clean energy technologies. The partnership is funded by a grant from the UK Royal Society and Department for International Development awarded to the University of Leeds in collaboration with the Université Marien NGouabi, Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, Makerere University and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.

Professor Jon Lovett, who is leading the project at the University of Leeds, said today in Brazzaville that ‘There are more than 625 million people with no access to modern energy services in Sub-Saharan Africa, and most African countries – 42 in all – are net energy importers with fossil fuel-fired plants accounting for 81% of total electricity generation’.

The network will focus on capturing and converting solar energy through three different systems: solar photovoltaic, concentrated solar power and biomass from natural photosynthesis. Professeur Bernard M’Passi Mabiala, Université Marien NGouabi, said ‘Africa cannot be developed without cheap clean efficient energy systems, research is needed to enable African countries to manufacture their own appropriate solar power technologies. Training and capacity building through this project will help scientists and graduate students to achieve this goal.’

Dr Richard Opoku, from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana said ‘The sun only shines during the day, so we need to develop storage systems to access the solar energy that has been captured. Concentrated solar power uses heat energy from the sun to generate electricity, and we can store this heat in thermal capacitors using phase change materials. Then we can run the turbines at night using the stored solar energy.’

Mary Suzan Abbo, from the Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation in Uganda said that ‘Increasing access to modern types of energy is critical for rural transformation. Most people in Sub Saharan Africa live in rural areas and are currently without access to grid electricity. This research will enable energy planners and policy makers to consider locally available innovative renewable energy sources to create an energy mix for rural electrification for productive use.’

Dr Consalva Msigwa, from the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology, Tanzania, said ‘One of the biggest challenges is integrating electricity from a range of different generating systems. The crucial issue here is the optimization and control of these decentralised renewable energy sources to get a stable and reliable output for scaling up for grid input.’

Sarah Colenbrander, who coordinates the Africa Clean Energy Research Alliance on behalf of the University of Leeds, added, “We will seek support for young African researchers to conduct north-south and south-south collaborative projects to build our partners’ technical capacity. We hope that this consortium provides a long-term research network around the all-important issues of energy access and climate-friendly development.”