FUTUREPROOFING LOW-CARBON ENERGY
Jamie Cross’s decade-long research trajectory has focused on the way that fuel and electricity organises or reorganises life in places of chronic poverty and humanitarian emergency. Research projects have included Displaced Energy (an ethnographic study of energy cultures amongst displaced people in Burkina Faso and Kenya) and Life Off the Grid (a comparative study of off grid living in Scotland, Papua New Guinea and India). He currently leads a 2-year study of data politics in Sub Saharan Africa’s off grid energy sector. Through collaborations with visual artists, filmmakers, and designers, Jamie’s work has also involved the production of physical and digital objects that probe the social and material politics of a solar future. These include Solar What?! (a fully repairable, open source solar powered lighting and charging device) and the Off Grid Solar Scorecard (a public platform to track sustainable design in the solar industry).
Solar What?! is a fully repairable, recyclable solar-powered light and charger.
In 2017 over 6 million small, solar powered lighting devices were sold worldwide and 1.6 million solar powered lighting devices entered electronic waste flows. We believe that delivering affordable, clean energy for all can also promote responsible production and consumption. Our goal is to advocate for sustainable design in the global solar industry and promote the repair, reuse and recycling of solar powered electronics. We are pro-solar, anti-waste.
Life off the Grid
From spaces of alternative living in Scotland, to spaces of social entrepreneurship in India, to spaces of state fragility in Papua New Guinea we find the proliferation of de-centralised models for accessing health and energy that are not premised on the connection of people to grids but on the capacities of their social networks. Confronted with fiscal and ecological crises the question of what off grid infrastructures for health and energy look like and how they work is of increasing significance.
Energy is a missing pillar in humanitarian responses to forced displacement. The application of humanitarian principles of protection and assistance to people displaced by conflict, disaster, environmental change and development have long focused on the provision of shelter, food, water, and sanitation and health. Yet over 89% of displaced people living in temporary or prolonged settlements live without access to electricity and seek to meet their needs for fuel and power by other means.