Mobility Platform for the BER Region
28. November 2018
Development of a fuel cell drive for recreational crafts
4. December 2018

Climate resilience for island communities in Southeast Asia

Building up climate resilience of vulnerable remote island communities in Southeast Asia through electrification

Project Duration October 2018 – September 2020

This PhD project aims to analyze and develop integrated approaches for island electrification in Southeast Asia covering socio-economic and techno-economic dimensions within an environment that is highly affected by impacts of climate change.

There is overwhelming evidence that the process of climate change and global warming will lead to large-scale shifts in the world’s climate, economic, and societal systems. Thereby, this global change is rapidly redesigning people’s day-to-day realities and livelihoods. The negative impacts of this change require systems, societies, and individuals to be capable of quickly adapting to those changes.

Southeast Asia is one of the regions most affected by impacts of climate change. Unusual natural disasters in combination with uncertainties in seasonality due to changing weather conditions in recent years underline this fact dramatically. Rising sea levels, in addition, show the urgency to build up climate resilience of the region’s most vulnerable areas. This is especially true for remote communities located on numerous small islands.

In addition, the communities face the problem of limited, expensive and unreliable supply of electricity, if existent. Their electricity access is mostly restricted to unreliable, expensive, and environmentally harmful diesel power generation. The limited electricity access hampers social and economic development andwithholds access to information, healthcare, and education opportunities.

This PhD research project combines both of the aforementioned challenges of island communities in Southeast Asia and analyzes the interdependencies of sustainable electrification approaches and their impact on local climate resilience. It aims to understand the impacts of sustainable electrification on local livelihoods and to identify electrification strategies that are suited best for a specific group of islands. This includes social and economic compatibility.

In addition to the evaluation of community’s resilience towards climate change impacts and its improvements through electrification, it is also important to design and adapt the electricity systems in a way that they are climate resistant themselves. This means that they will have to resist extreme weather events caused by climate change and support emergency response mechanisms as well as quick recovery.

© Image: Katrin Lammers
The hypothesis of the PhD project is that sustainable electrification has the potential to support improved climate resilience of island communities in Southeast Asia. In order to verify this hypothesis several research questions need to be addressed and elaborated within the course of this dissertation:

  1. What is the situation of Southeast Asian islands in terms of their climate resilience, what defines climate resilience and what are similarities and differences?

      Analysis of:

    • General data, such as size and location of islands and their communities, demography, topology,economic situation, distance to shore, etc.
    • Electrification status, such as type, cost, no. of connected households, etc.
    • Climate resilience regarding the factors of risk zones, vulnerability indices, elevation of settlements, disaster risk management and infrastructure, etc.
    This is to understand the specific islands’ situation. Recording the abovementioned aspects will allow to map and cluster the islands on a web-based platform. A combination of literature review, QGIS modeling, and cluster development tools will be applied.

  2. Which (energy related) adaptation measures have the potential to improve climate resilience of island communities?

    • Analysis of interdependencies of electrification and improved climate resilience in an impact study, which will be included to the web-based platform. A combination of literature review, expert interviews, and surveys will be applied.

  3. How can these islands be electrified in a resilient and effective way?

    • Development of electrification recommendations for identified clusters considering the specific islands´ situation and climate resilient technical setups and functions. The results will be visualized and integrated into the web-based platform.
    • Technical optimization and simulation of electricity systems on the islands including modularity (micro grids in mini-grid), anchor, and emergency supply stations (e.g. around public buildings), cloud and swarm systems etc. will be applied.
 TU Berlin - Institut for Energy Technology

PhD project funded in context of a scholarship by the Heinrich Böll Foundation



Katrin Lammers

PhD Candidate