University of Minnesota | Driven to Discover
  • CIVIOS
  • Your source for public affairs research.
Podcast
Solar lanterns charge in the sun. Source: iStock

Community solar intermediaries: bridging the gap between policy and practice

Podcast

In the fall of 2020, Elise Harrington joined the Humphrey School as an assistant professor in the science, technology, and environmental policy area. In her new role, Harrington hopes to continue the research she began with MIT's Tata Center for her PhD, which brought her to both India and Kenya to study innovation in small-scale solar technologies. In this podcast episode, she speaks with us in more depth about her work in Kenya, where she's been investigating ways to close gaps between policy and practice in distribution models and consumer education for off-grid solar technologies like lanterns. Harrington is especially interested in the role played by "frontline solar intermediaries": individuals who act as go-betweens on behalf of solar companies. Intermediaries travel to communities to inform people about solar technology, sell products based on a variety of pricing models, and act as a resource for ongoing help with solar. When it comes to building a more resilient electricity infrastructure, Harrington says,"social interactions really matter”—and these intermediaries play an important role.