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Centre for Sustainable Development

Est 2000 - home of the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

Studying at Cambridge


Stephanie Hirmer

Dr. Stephanie Hirmer is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Sustainable Development.

She is leading the ESD1000 module in Lent Term for the MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development titled "Energy, Development and Rural Livelihood". She is a researcher at the Energy and Power Group at the University of Oxford where she looks at 'Improving Sierra Leone's Energy System'. This is part of the prestigious UK Department for International Development (DFID) funded Energy and Economic Growth (EEG) applied research programme.

Stephanie has over a decade of professional experience, spanning academia and industry, in international development with a strong focus on off-grid energy access. She holds a PhD from the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Cambridge. Her research focused on the user-perceived value of rural electrification projects in East Africa.

PhD thesis download:

Stephi is a co-founder and technical director at Rural Senses Ltd. ( The social enterprise seeks to deliver financially sustainable development infrastructure, with a focus on bottom-up design. She held a UKERC Energy-PIECES research award which was funded by EPSRC, which she recently completed. The project aimed to provide opportunities for Early-Career Researchers from energy-related SSH fields to get engaged in the energy policy debate. As part of this Stephanie investigated the role of non-energy energy policy to enhance Productive Uses of Energy (PUE).

Previously she worked as a research associate at the Cambridge Malaysian Education and Development Trust (CMEDT) and for the Smart Villages Initiative (SVI). As part of this role she delivered workshops on different topics pertaining to off-grid energy access in India and West Africa collaborating with ECREEE, AfDB, EUIEI PDF, Energy4Impact, SNV etc. She also worked for the German Development Agency (GIZ) in Uganda and Germany where she designed and implemented community-run hydropower schemes and worked on an up-scaling strategy for pico-hydropower and solar PV. 

Further, Stephanie has considerable consulting experience for clients such as KfW, Dorsch Consulting,

Research Interest:

  • the role of energy access for the marginalised (Productive Uses of Energy (PUE), energy poverty etc.);
  • end-user decision-making (User-Perceived Value (UPV), consumer behaviour etc.);
  • cross-sectoral design/planning approaches (system integration, transdisciplinary decision making etc.); and
  • the influence of and being influenced by non-energy sectors (non-energy energy policy).

Research Outputs:

  • 2017. “The benefits of energy appliances in the off-grid energy sector based on seven off-grid initiatives in rural Uganda” (with Guthrie P.), Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Elsevier, 79, pp. 924-934. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2017.05.152
  • 2016. ‘Identifying the needs of communities in rural Uganda: A method for determining the “User-Perceived Value” of rural electrification initiatives’ (with Guthrie P.), Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Elsevier, 66, pp. 476–486. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2016.08.037.
  • 2016. ‘Identifying user-perceived value as a tool to long-term success of initiatives targeting lower-income communities’, in Smart Villages Forward Look Workshop: Potential Breakthroughs in the Use of Energy in Off-Grid Villages Workshop. Cambridge, UK: Smart Villages Initiative, p. 1819.
  • 2016. “The water-energy-food nexus in West Africa” Smart Villages Initiative, Policy Brief, Briefing No. 19, August 2016.
  • 2015. ‘The potential for vertical gardens as evaporative coolers: An adaptation of the ‘Penman-Monteith Equation'" (with Davis M.M.) Building and Environment. pages 135–141.
  • 2015. ‘Extreme Sleepover: Keeping the lights on in rural Uganda’, Research Horizons. University of Cambridge, 26, pp.3435
  • 2014. “The user-value of rural electrification: An analysis and adoption of existing models and theories” (Cruickshank H.), Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. Elsevier, 34, pp. 145–154. doi: 10.1016/j.rser.2014.03.005.
  • 2014. “Making the deployment of pico-PV more sustainable along the value chain” (with Cruickshank H.), Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 30, February 2014, Pages 401-411.


  • (in print) “Policy options for enhancing Productive Uses of Energy in low-resource settings in the Global South” (with Robison R.), UK: UKERC (Energy-PIECES).
  • (in review) “System integration of rural electrification initiatives in Uganda” (with Blom C.), Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews.
  • “Non-energy energy policy to enhance Productive Uses of Energy in low-resource settings in the Global South” (with Hooper L. and Robison R.)
  •  “Understanding developing communities’ values: a comparison of experts' opinion with villagers' priorities in rural Uganda “ (with Tran A.)
  • “Gender balance in off-grid energy initiatives: considering gender differences during and post project implementation” (with Tran A.)
  • “Bottom-up business model design for scaling up rural electrification” (with Ben-Or Y.)

Dr Stephanie Hirmer in the garden

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Award for Blue Green Cities research

Jun 14, 2020

Dick Fenner and Malcolm Morgan have been awarded the Robert Alfred Carr Prize for their paper entitled: Spatial evaluation of the multiple benefits of sustainable drainage systems.

Widening Horizons update published

Feb 12, 2020

Dick Fenner and Charles Ainger have recently updated their 2006 paper (co-authored with Peter Guthrie and Heather Cruickshank) "Widening engineering horizons: addressing the complexity of sustainable development" to examine how much progress towards sustainability the civil engineering profession has made in each of the eight key areas defined in the original paper.

Perspectives on Urban Flood Resilience - Blog

Feb 12, 2020

Dick Fenner has compiled and edited a special themed edition of the Royal Society’s Philosophical Transactions A Journal on urban flood resilience, published in February 2020.

Prof Fenner paper wins award

Nov 13, 2019

Professor Dick Fenner and his co-authors Dr Lan Hoag (IBM) and Maggie Skandarian (Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, USA) have been highly commended in the Outstanding Paper Award by the Journal of Flood Risk Management.

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