Rob Byrne ← Back


  • Lecturer in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex, UK

Dr Rob Byrne is a lecturer in the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex. He convenes the Energy and Climate Change work of the Social, Technological and Environmental Pathways to Sustainability (STEPS) Centre, a collaboration between SPRU and the Institute of Development Studies, also at the University of Sussex. Rob represents Sussex on the management committee of the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network, which is an international network of academics, policy makers, practitioners and others active or interested in using low carbon energy sources for development. Rob is also a member of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Rob’s research and teaching are focussed on pro-poor and socially-just sustainability, primarily in developing-country contexts. His PhD analysed the evolution of the solar home system markets in Kenya and Tanzania, and Rob has continued to conduct research on solar in East Africa. He has also worked on other low carbon development research, including low carbon industrialisation in China. Rob is interested in how to harness low carbon technologies to achieve development goals, and what national and international policies can do to this end. In this regard, he has consulted for various bilateral and multilateral donors.

Rob’s first degree was in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology from the University of Warwick in Coventry, UK. As an engineer, Rob worked at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, at the Rural Industries Innovation Centre in Botswana and for a Maasai NGO in Tanzania. Altogether, Rob has lived and worked for over five years in African countries. In Tanzania, he was a founding member of what is now the Tanzanian Renewable Energy Association. In 2004, Rob began his master’s and PhD training at SPRU, graduating in 2011.

Selected publications
(also see Sussex profile:
Byrne, R. (2011) Learning drivers: rural electrification regime building in Kenya and Tanzania, DPhil thesis, SPRU, University of Sussex, Brighton
Byrne, R. (2013) “Low Carbon Development in Tanzania: Lessons from its Solar Home System Market”, in F. Urban and J. Nordensvärd (eds.) Low Carbon Development: Key Issues, Routledge, London and New York: 240-255
Byrne, R., A. Smith, J. Watson and D. Ockwell (2012) “Energy Pathways in Low-Carbon Development: The Need to Go beyond Technology Transfer”, in D. Ockwell and A. Mallett (eds.) Low-Carbon Technology Transfer: From Rhetoric to Reality, Routledge, London and New York: 123-142
Watson, J. and R. Byrne (2012) “Low-Carbon Innovation in China: The Role of International Technology Transfer”, in D. Ockwell and A. Mallett (eds.) Low-Carbon Technology Transfer: From Rhetoric to Reality, Routledge, London and New York: 63-84
Watson, J., R. Byrne, D. Ockwell and M. Stua (2014) “Lessons from China: building technological capabilities for low carbon technology transfer and development”,
Climatic Change DOI:10.1007/s105840141124-1
Watson, J., R. Byrne, M. Morgan-Jones, F. Tsang, J. Opazo, C. Fry and S. Castle-Clarke (2012) “What are the major barriers to increased use of modern energy services among the world’s poorest people and are interventions to overcome these effective?”, CEE Review 11-004, Collaboration for Environmental Evidence: