Lead Supervisor: Linda Hirons, National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS), University of Reading

Email: l.c.hirons@reading.ac.uk

Co-supervisors: Caroline Wainwright, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Cardiff University; David Brayshaw, Department of Meteorology, University of Reading; Dr Willis Ochieng, Kenya Electricity Generating Company PLC (KenGen)

An unreliable, intermittent energy supply is debilitating for emerging economies like Kenya, and disproportionately affects the livelihoods of marginalised groups. Kenya’s energy supply is particularly sensitive to weather-related variability – with almost 50% of the country’s electricity being derived from renewable, weather-sensitive generators (Hydropower, Wind and Solar). In line with global climate change mitigation efforts, Kenya aims to achieve 100% renewable supply by 2030 meaning the proportion of weather-sensitive generators is likely to continue increasing. Despite this, the use of weather and climate information in energy decision-making in the region is currently extremely limited. This project combines supervisory expertise at the forefront of climate variability and energy with application experts in Kenya to give the student the opportunity to addresses this mismatch.

By improving our understanding of the links between local energy supply and the large-scale meteorological drivers, exploring how predictable these drivers are days, weeks and months ahead,  as well as the conditions which lead to energy stress events, this project aims to provide the scientific underpinning to better support the use of weather information for energy planning and generation in Kenya. In doing so, it has the potential to showcase a step-change in the delivery of weather and climate information services in the energy sector in Kenya which would be relevant for other countries in the region. The project has the potential to provide the tools to allow Kenya to develop a more reliable renewable energy supply and build more resilient livelihoods for local populations.

This project needs a highly motivated student who is interested in developing ground-breaking research with world-leading experts at the climate-energy interface. In the current context of a global shift towards green energy supply it is critical that emerging economies in Africa, with huge potential for renewable generation, are not left behind. This project combines knowledge in drivers of climate variability over East Africa, with energy generation modelling to pioneer new climate-smart decision-support tools for energy generation planning in Kenya.

Training Opportunities

The student will have the opportunity to undertake further training offered by NCAS in Introduction to Atmospheric Science course and Climate Modelling Summer School. They will also have opportunities to engage with a variety of taught MSc courses from the Department of Meteorology.

There is the potential to facilitate visit(s) to the KenGen partner collaborators to develop hands-on experience of how energy planning decisions are made in Kenya and to deepen the students’ understanding of the context of their research. The student is encouraged to engage in relevant workshops, training and conferences in energy science to share their research widely.

Student Profile

The project would suit a student with a background in physical or mathematical sciences. The student must have strong analytical skills. During the project the student will be expected to develop the necessary computer programming and weather and climate data analysis skills. Some previous programming experience would be extremely beneficial. Previous experience in the energy sector, or energy-related research, would be beneficial but not required.