EPD group

Access to sustainable and modern energy services is an essential element of development and underlies the achievement of many other development goals such as education and health. The Energy Poverty and Development group at the ERC undertakes exciting and diverse research around the themes of energy and poverty. The group promotes an interdisciplinary approach to exploring energy poverty, which itself is a cross-cutting topic that covers many different research areas including politics and development, science and technology, health and environmental sciences.


The EPD group conducts research to support and inform policy as well as identify good practise approaches to energy access interventions. In particular they undertake targeted research investigating energy needs and consumption patterns of low-income households; as well as assessing energy supply programmes to better understand successful approaches and the potential for replicability and scalability.

The EPD group is an affiliate of the UNEP facilitated Global Network for Sustainable Energy for Development (GNESD) and has a strong international network of research centres in other countries with whom collaborative and comparative studies are undertaken. The team also collaborates with other groups at the ERC, for example in the area of climate change mitigation and poverty.

The current areas of interest for the group include:

  • Access to modern and sustainable energy for the poor;
  • Development of a household energy policy for South Africa;
  • Access to low-carbon and renewable energy technologies;
  • Community development potential of South Africa’s renewables procurement programme;
  • The water-energy nexus in the context of climate change.

Our publications can be found on the ERC website


The Energy, Poverty and Development team currently consists of Dr. Gisela Prasad, Holle Linnea Wlokas and Louise Tait.


Masters course in Energy Poverty and Development

The Energy Poverty and Development team offers a Masters course in Energy Poverty and Development to students undertaking a Masters in Energy and Development Studies at the Energy Research Centre at University of Cape Town. This course aims to introduce students to aspects of development theory, poverty studies and the relationship with energy use. A lecture/seminar series will be presented and will cover the following topics: availability, consumption, and characteristics of energy use in developing areas; assessing consumption patterns; introduction to social research techniques; relationships between energy, poverty, education, health, water access, and development; gender perspectives on energy procurement and uses; urban and rural energy technologies and strategies as applied to households, community facilities and small scale enterprises, (including electrification, biomass and renewable energy); related energy efficiency and environment issues.

For more information on the Masters degrees offered by the ERC, please visit the ERC website.

Masters thesis students

Two of the ERC’s Masters students are currently being supervised by EPD team members. You can find their research outlined on the students page.