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Dr Lucy H. Baker

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Professional biography

I am a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Geography at the Open University where I have worked since April 2023.

My empirical and theoretical expertise lies in development studies, political economy and the energy transition. My three main areas of research can be summarised as: i) ownership, finance and renewable energy; ii) governing electricity in a time of technological disruption; and iii) technological capabilities and global production networks in renewable energy.

I have a country specialism on South Africa, and have worked in various countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America throughout my professional and academic career.

Prior to joining academia, I worked with non-governmental organisations: as policy and networking officer at the Bretton Woods Project, leading research and campaigns on the socio-economic and environmental impacts of development finance in low and middle-income countries; for Amnesty International as a human rights campaigner; and as a communications officer for Oxfam.

I completed my PhD in "The political economy of socio-technical transitions in South Africa's electricity sector" in 2012 at the University of East Anglia, UK. I hold an MSc in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and an MA Hons in Spanish and French from the University of Edinburgh. A native speaker of English, I am fluent in Spanish and speak and have a good working proficiency in Portuguese and French..

Research interests

Energy geographies

Governing electricity

The political economy of energy

Global production networks and technological capabilities in renewable energy

Finance and financialisation in renewable energy 

Teaching interests

I am currently co-chairing the production of DST 216: Sharing a Dynamic Planet.

I am a fellow of the HEA and have over a decade of experience of designing and delivering modules, lectures and seminars for a variety of undergraduate, postgraduate and professional courses relating to human and environmental geography, development studies and energy policy.

I welcome enquiries from potential PhD candidates in the areas of: 

The political economy of low-carbon development

Energy transitions in low and middle-income countries

The role of finance in determining renewable energy pathways

 Current PhD supervision:

  • Cecilia Llamosas, Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex (since May 2019) Working title: ‘Energy justice and security implications of large cross-boundary hydropower dams– A comparative analysis’
  • Wonda Mireille Yeo, University of Johannesburg (since June 2020) Working title: ‘Understanding the role of gender in the energy transition in Côte d’Ivoire’
  • Charlie Lawrie, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex (since September 2021) Working title: ‘The political economy of decarbonisation in the MENA region’.


Impact and engagement

I am co-investigator on the GCRF-funded project: ‘Sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids in Africa’. Led by University of Surrey. Partners include: the Centre for Frugal Innovation (Kenya), ECREEE (Cabo Verde) and others from Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Kenya. GCRF- Funded. Total project value: £1.5 million:

I am a visiting associate professor within the Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation and Sustainable Development at the University of Johannesburg: 

And a visiting fellow in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex: 


Exploring the connections between mini-grid market regulation and energy access expansion: The case of Nigeria (2024-01)
Sesan, Temilade; Uduka, Unico; Baker, Lucy; Ugwu, Okechukwu; Eleri, Ewah and Bhattacharyya, Subhes
Energy Policy, 184, Article 113891

New frontiers of electricity capital: energy access in sub-Saharan Africa (2023-04)
Baker, Lucy
New Political Economy, 28(2) (pp. 206-222)

The ‘capability’ of South African energy governance to deliver urban sustainable transitions (2023)
Essex, Stephen; Caprotti, Federico; de Groot, Jiska; Phillips, Jon; Baker, Lucy; Wolpe, Peta and Reddy, Yachika
Urban Research and Practice ((Early access))

Procurement, finance and the energy transition: Between global processes and territorial realities (2022)
Baker, Lucy
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space, 5(4) (pp. 1738-1764)

Power struggles: Governing renewable electricity in a time of technological disruption (2021-01)
Baker, Lucy; Hook, Andrew and Sovacool, Benjamin K.
Geoforum, 118 (pp. 93-105)

Scales of governance: Translating multiscalar transitional pathways in South Africa's energy landscape (2020-12)
Caprotti, Federico; Essex, Stephen; Phillips, Jon; de Groot, Jiska and Baker, Lucy
Energy Research and Social Science, 70, Article 101700

Tensions in the transition: The politics of electricity distribution in South Africa (2019-02)
Baker, Lucy and Phillips, Jon
Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 37(1) (pp. 177-196)

A regime in the making? Examining the geographies of solar PV electricity in Southern Africa (2019)
Kirshner, Joshua; Baker, Lucy; Smith, Adrian and Bulkeley, Harriet
Geoforum, 103 (pp. 114-125)

Of embodied emissions and inequality: Rethinking energy consumption (2018-02)
Baker, Lucy
Energy Research & Social Science, 36 (pp. 52-60)

The political economy of technological capabilities and global production networks in South Africa's wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) industries (2017-09)
Baker, Lucy and Sovacool, Benjamin K.
Political Geography, 60 (pp. 1-12)

New frontiers and conceptual frameworks for energy justice (2017)
Sovacool, Benjamin K.; Burke, Matthew; Baker, Lucy; Kotikalapudi, Chaitanya Kumar and Wlokas, Holle
Energy Policy, 105 (pp. 677-691)

Commercial-scale renewable energy in South Africa and its progress to date (2017)
Baker, Lucy
IDS Bulletin, 48(5-6) (pp. 101-118)

The political economy of energy transitions in Mozambique and South Africa: The role of the Rising Powers (2016-07)
Power, Marcus; Newell, Peter; Baker, Lucy; Bulkeley, Harriet; Kirshner, Joshua and Smith, Adrian
Energy Research and Social Science, 17 (pp. 10-19)

The evolving role of finance in South Africa's renewable energy sector (2015-08)
Baker, Lucy
Geoforum, 64 (pp. 146-156)

The Political Economy of Energy Transitions: The Case of South Africa (2014)
Baker, Lucy; Newell, Peter and Phillips, Jon
New Political Economy, 19(6) (pp. 791-818)

Renewable energy in South Africa's minerals-energy complex: a ‘low carbon’ transition? (2014)
Baker, Lucy
Review of African Political Economy, 42(144) (pp. 245-261)

Governing clean development: A framework for analysis (2009)
Newell, Peter; Jenner, Nicky and Baker, Lucy
Development Policy Review, 27(6) (pp. 717-739)

From the minerals–energy complex to a just transition? (2023-09)
Baker, Lucy and Burton, Jesse
In: Mohamed, Seeraj; Ngoma, Amuzweni and Baloyi, Basani eds. The Evolving Structure of South Africa’s Economy: Faultlines and Futures (pp. 270-296)
ISBN : 978-1-920690-39-7 | Publisher : Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) | Published : Johannesburg

The Energy Politics of South Africa (2020-06-08)
Baker, Lucy; Burton, Jesse and Trollip, Hilton
In: Hancock, Kathleen J. and Allison, Juliann Emmons eds. The Oxford Handbook of Energy Politics. Oxford Handbooks (pp. 711-729)
ISBN : 978-019086136-0 | Publisher : Oxford University Press

The politics of procurement and the low-carbon transition in South Africa (2018-01-26)
Baker, Lucy and Burton, Jesse
In: Goldthau, Andreas; Keating, Michael F. and Kuzemko, Caroline eds. Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy and Natural Resources. Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series (pp. 91-106)
ISBN : 978-178347562-9 | Publisher : Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd. | Published : Cheltenham

Post-Apartheid Electricity Policy and the Emergence of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Sector (2017-04-13)
Baker, Lucy
In: Arent, Douglas; Arndt, Channing; Miller, Mackay; Tarp, Finn and Zinaman, Owen eds. The Political Economy of Clean Energy Transitions (pp. 371-390)
ISBN : 9780198802242 | Publisher : Oxford University Press | Published : Oxford

Sustainability Transitions and the Politics of Electricity Planning in South Africa (2016-08-11)
Baker, L.
In: Brauch, H. G.; Spring, Ú. O.; Grin, J. and Scheffran, J. eds. Handbook on Sustainability Transition and Sustainable Peace. Hexagon Series on Human and Environmental Security and Peace (pp. 793-809)
ISBN : 978-3-319-43882-5 | Publisher : Springer | Published : Cham, Switzerland