Emilie Etienne

Doctorante en sociologie et économie
etienemi's picture
Institutional membership: 
Université Grenoble Alpes
PhD Candidate (f)
Non permanent.e
Research areas: 
International cooperation
Research team: 



Who am I?

Previously project manager and specialist in monitoring and evaluation of appropriate technologies for urban and rural populations in Latin America, Asia and Africa, I have worked for the last ten years on energy, water and sanitation, disaster risk management issues, with a particular interest on durability, sustainability and post-project evaluations.

The question that has driven me for several years is the following: what happens to development projects after the withdrawal of external support?

That is why at the end of 2020, I started a PhD to understand the sustainability of solar mini-grids in Africa and Latin America. I am studying how their conditions of governance, maintenance and their business models evolve in time. My thesis is being carried out at the University of Grenoble, under the supervision of Pascale Trompette and Sandrine Mathy (PACTE and GAEL lab), and in collaboration with Schneider Electric (Nicolas Plain, Emilienne Lepoutre and Olivier Jacquet).

Working languages: French, Spanish, English and Portuguese

CV: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eetienne/

The future of solar projects: a socio-economic research on the autonomy of off-grid solutions in emerging countries
External supervisor(s): 
Sandrine Mathy; GAEL

Alongside the dominant approaches to grid extension, decentralized solutions, especially based on solar technologies, are now considered as a promising alternative for electrifying rural populations in developing countries. Multiple actors invest in this area, generating technical as well as organizational and social innovations. These innovations often depend on a principle of socio-technical autonomy, relying on a local ecosystem (decentralized governance, economic self-sufficiency, technical skills) to ensure the long-term survival of solar-based solutions. However, the sustainability of those systems cannot be taken for granted: a recent study in Kenya, for example, shows that a fifth of solar products stopped working only eighteen months after being purchased (Cross & Murray, 2018). In that sense, innovation only makes sense when it succeeds in incorporating learnings from the past, to support sustainability in the medium and long term. This thesis questions the current models of socio-technical autonomy: I study how solar energy solutions, considered as autonomous, maintain relationships with their environment, through complex and evolving socio-technical and economic networks.