From Theory to Practice: A review of co-design methods for humanitarian energy ecosystems

Benjamin L. Robinson, Alison Halford, Elena Gaura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


Our planet is currently in the midst of a global humanitarian crisis. Yet, there is a widening gap between over 80 million displaced people and the political will to meet their needs. Improving energy access in the displaced setting to build capacity and resilience requires meaningful integration of the needs of communities throughout the design, delivery and evaluation process within the socio-technical energy system. This paper aims to explore the ways in which co-design is conceptualised and applied, from an interdisciplinary perspective, within the socio-technical framing. We do this by first conducting a rapid review of relevant co-design literature to understand theories, typologies and identify methods of best co-design practice in the Humanitarian Energy sector. Second, we present the Humanitarian Engineering and Energy for Displacement project as a co-design case study for Humanitarian Energy using Technology Implementation Model for Energy (TIME) as a framework for analysis. Our rapid review resulted in the typology of the Spectrum of Co-Design, a mapping of differing conceptualisations of co-design showing their positioning and interactions. Our results show that by exploring if and how conceptual frameworks, such as TIME, adds value to practitioner orientated humanitarian programming this can make a significant contribution to future proofing energy systems that seek to deliver inclusive, sustainable and just transitions. We highlight specific learnings from HEED around the disconnection between perceptions of key stakeholder roles, misunderstandings of energy access and use, and building trusting partnerships through the creation of meaningful rectification pathways.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102545
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Early online date23 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (CC-BY)


Engineering and Physical Science Research Council ( EPSRC ) - EP/P029531/1


  • Energy access
  • Energy methods
  • Energy transitions
  • Humanitarian energy
  • Refugees
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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