The Global Energy Access Network (GLEAN) is an interdisciplinary network of graduate and professional students at Duke University who (i) recognize the urgency of the energy access challenge facing the Global South; and (ii) aim to advance sustainable, interdisciplinary solutions to address this challenge in their research and professional pursuits. We offer students an opportunity to explore shared interests, engage with and learn from experienced researchers and practitioners, and build a platform of data and information as a hub for ongoing energy access research and engagement activities at Duke and beyond. Ultimately, we aim to foster a research and policy dialogue around energy access, and to help position Duke as a central contributor to that dialogue within a global network.
The adoption of energy access targets as part of the Sustainable Development Goals has galvanized the international community, with governments and international organizations alike mobilizing resources to ensure universal access to modern energy for all. Yet even the very concept of “energy access” remains steeped in ambiguity, and no clear scholarly or policy consensus has emerged to define who has access, who does not, or how that ultimately impacts wellbeing. Unfortunately, this is not just a semantic dispute. Access to modern energy services is foundational in promoting health, education, and livelihoods; in protecting local environmental resources and biodiversity; and in ensuring a sustainable future. Absent a meaningful understanding of the nature and scale of the energy access challenge, policymakers are limited in their ability to design and adopt appropriate policies, deploy suitable technologies, and channel limited resources in the right directions. We aim to address this.
GLEAN is presently engaged in three distinct “channels”:
- The construction of an Energy Access Index. The Energy Access Index, which is inspired by the Human Development Index, Environmental Performance Index, and others, will compile data from various sources (including the United National Sustainable Energy For All Global Tracking Framework) and provide a web-based visualization and analysis tool so users can readily see and compare different aspects of energy access at a national level.
- The production of an edited volume of case studies that collects distinct but related experiences on energy access across key regions of the developing world. We intend this to inform researchers, practitioners, students and others working on energy access and energy transitions, who otherwise frequently find themselves “reinventing the wheel” when engaging with unfamiliar contexts or communities. The volume will also provide qualitative insight regarding household- and village-level perspectives on the drivers and consequences of modern energy access.
- An external speaker series that brings world-renowned researchers and practitioners to Duke.
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The Global Energy Access Network is sponsored by the Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies under the Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN) Grant, and housed within the Duke University Energy Initiative.