UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


CEGE Senior Lecturer awarded Royal Academy of Engineering Senior Research Fellowship

20 March 2019

Dr. Priti Parikh from UCL’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering has been awarded a five-year fellowship, ‘Smart Solar Solutions for All (S34ALL)’, with the Royal Academy of Engineering, co-funded by industry partner BBOXX.

Dr Priti Parikh, Senior Lecturer in UCL's Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

S34ALL will develop energy prediction models for low to middle income countries - such as those in sub-Saharan Africa - where current modelling work is sparse. At a level of circa 42% in 2016, the household electrification rate in sub-Saharan Africa is the lowest in the world. As energy access has a fundamental role to play in poverty alleviation, S34ALL’s aim to generate an evidence base, ensuring sustainable and affordable energy access, is vitally important. Good energy access also enables good access to education, markets and information, plus also enhances mobility through improved transportation systems and food security. The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng)/BBOXX fellowship awarded to Dr Pairkh is designed to achieve such results by taking into account erratic consumption patterns combining quantitative models - for example, artificial neural networks - with consumer behaviour studies.

S34ALL partners include the University of Rwanda and the Low Carbon for Energy Development Network (LCEDN), who will provide support to foster collaborations both in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa. The main aim of producing an evidence base will be achieved through working closely with BBOXX, who have installed smart solar solutions in rural, urban and refugee camp settings across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. S34All will focus on four of their markets in the former area, with planned models providing valuable evidence to inform decision-making on market expansion across sub-Saharan Africa. The fellowship will also support technical choices to ensure local benefits for communities.

As a next-generation utility, BBOXX aims to transform lives and unlock potential through the provision of affordable, reliable and clean energy, plus other modern utilities. The company has successfully installed over 150,000 smart solar home systems, providing energy access for nearly one million people, plus $2 million's worth of savings for their customers.

Chris Baker-Brian, Chief Technology Innovation Officer at BBOXX, says: “We are thrilled to be supporting the work of Dr. Priti Parikh alongside the Royal Academy of Engineering. This research will be important in understanding the needs of underserved communities in sub-Saharan Africa. It will help to expand access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity to populations living without any form of electricity or without a reliable electrical supply. Access to electricity enables economic development at scale, by creating new markets through the entry point of electricity. Energy provision brings people into the digital economy and creates demand in many other areas and modern amenities, including gas, water, internet and finance.”

Professor Nigel Titchener-Hooker, Dean of UCL Engineering, describes himself as “delighted” by Dr Parikh's fellowship award, and “the prospects this opens up for the future. The vision of S34ALL is a totally compelling one; relevant and timely. The outcomes will be far-reaching and profound.”

Dr. Parikh herself was “honoured” to receive the Senior Research Fellowship, noting that “predicting energy consumption trends in low to middle income countries will really help aid energy market expansion in sub-Saharan Africa. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues at BBOXX in order to achieve this vital work.” A recent recipient of the UCL Provost’s Education Award, Dr. Parikh founded CEGE's Engineering for International Development MSc with a view to equip engineers with the skill sets required to address global challenges and provide appropriate infrastructure solutions in resource-challenged settings. The programme has been running for four years, growing to a strong cohort of 20 students from all over the world. Dr Parikh, an expert in in infrastructure and business models for resource-constrained settings, is also the Co-Investigator on the £0.6 million PANChSHEEEL project (funded by the Medical Research Council/the Global Challenges Research Fund), and for the £0.5 million Economic & Social Research Council/National Research Foundation-funded Isulabantu Project (assessing environmental management systems and upgrading processes in South African townships).

With thanks to BBOXX Media.


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Notes to Editor

Kia McLean / Amy Boekstein / Justine Crestois

Instinctif Partners

Email: bboxx@instinctif.com