Date of Award
Department or Program
Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Lee R. Lynd
Human-caused climate change and deep disparities in human development imperil a prosperous and just future for our planet and the people who live on it. Transforming our society to mitigate global warming offers an opportunity to rebuild energy systems to the benefit of those who are harmed by global inequality today. I examine this opportunity through the lens of two sustainable energy technologies: bioenergy and miniature electricity grids (minigrids).
Bioenergy requires land to produce biomass and is inextricably connected to the surrounding environment, agricultural livelihoods, and food system. I apply data science tools to study aspects of land use and food security that may intersect with increasing bioenergy production. I assess the potential to use over one billion hectares of grazing land more intensively with an empirical yield gap analysis technique called climate binning. To clarify how agricultural and socioeconomic characteristics relate to national food security, I study the relative importance of several drivers using simple linear regressions with cross validation and random sampling techniques.
Minigrids can supply clean, reliable electricity to un- and under-served communities, but small and hard-to-predict customer loads hamper their financial viability. To improve predictions of daily electricity demand of prospective customers, I test a data-driven approach using customer demographic surveys and machine learning models. I also investigate opportunities to grow loads by stimulating income-generating uses of minigrid electricity in twelve Nigerian agricultural value chains.
I conclude by emphasizing the fundamental complementarity of energy and agriculture as change levers for human development, especially in rural communities with low energy access and high poverty. I also provide recommendations to support the effective use of energy to solve pressing agricultural problems and drive multiplicative human development benefits.
Allee, Andrew, "Bioenergy and Minigrids for Sustainable Human Development" (2021). Dartmouth College Ph.D Dissertations. 83.