June M. Lukuyu

PhD Student | Researcher, Energy Consumption for Improved Livelihoods

Systems Towards Infrastructure Monitoring and Analysis (STIMA) Lab

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Email: jlukuyu@umass.edu


I am a third year PhD student in the STIMA Lab, advised by Professor Jay Taneja. I have a Masters degree in Renewable Energy Systems Technology from Loughborough University and a Bachelors degree in Engineering Science from Smith College. I also have a MicroMasters credential in Data, Economics and Development Policy. My research focuses on designing and evaluating demand stimulation strategies that facilitate increased use of electricity for improved livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. My work leverages large-scale primary and secondary data sets; and employs a wide range of data analytics, survey methodology, statistical modeling and computing tools.

I am also a Fellow with the Energy for Growth Hub


To ensure access to affordable, reliable and sustainable energy for all by 2030, low-income regions like sub-Saharan Africa are deploying a mix of grid-based and off-grid solutions. Contrary to the energy efficiency zeitgeist in industrialized regions, low-income regions need to increase electricity consumption to grow their economies. However, large-scale electrification programs in sub-Saharan Africa often focus on generation expansion and increasing connections, with limited investments in promoting electricity consumption. Insufficient consumption growth precludes utilities and developers from recouping system costs, pushing electricity costs higher. Majority of consumers are therefore unable to afford the electricity, hindering its use for economic purposes, and are therefore not experiencing the intended benefits of electrification.


Electric mobility as a demand stimulation strategy for the Kenyan grid (Ongoing)

There is extensive research on electric vehicle (EV) mobility in the context of industrialized regions. However, not much research has been done to investigate the extent to which the benefits and grid limitations of large adoption of EVs apply in the context of developing countries. This project investigates the grid constraints of large-scale penetration of different types of electric mobility options in Nairobi (electric private vehicles, electric public service vehicles, electric two wheelers) under different scenarios and the potential benefits to grid operations, which will aid utilities in developing countries to plan for the adoption of EVs. We also investigate the potential economic benefits of the added demand to the system and discuss policy recommendations for Kenya as well as other East African countries.

Opportunities for electrification of irrigation in Ethiopia (Ongoing)

This project investigates whether newly-collected satellite-measured pollution data can identify seasonal off-grid diesel-powered irrigation activity in Ethiopia. At scale, this technique can guide electrification of diesel irrigation pumps across Ethiopia, improving environmental and financial sustainability for farmers as well as increasing demand for the grid, consequently strengthening business models for utilities.

Electric mobility as a stochastic anchor load for an island-based minigrid on Lake Victoria

This project evaluated the techno-economic feasibility of converting fishing boats from gasoline to electric-powered to serve as anchor loads for an island-based minigrid in Lake Victoria. Since the fishing fleet operates at night, with charge management the fleet creates a flexible daytime off-peak load, which can improve capacity utilization and smoothen grid operation . The communities on the island also stand to benefit from the lower cost of electricity from the significant additional load of the fishing fleet, while the boat owners can feasibly transition to cleaner, cheaper alternatives and boost their incomes.

This project was in collaboration with Study Partner: Equatorial Power.

Appliance financing and electricity tariff subsidies for minigrid customers in East Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa, minigrids fill a critical gap, providing cost-effective, reliable, clean electricity to power households and businesses isolated from the main grid. However, these minigrids face the challenge of poor capacity utilization and low load factor for a number of reasons. This project tested the hypothesis of two barriers to the sustainability of minigrid business models: high electricity tariffs, which are a result of the high cost of providing power and lack the capital to purchase appliances, by evaluating the effect of two demand stimulation programs: an appliance financing program and a tariff reduction scheme, on the level and timing of electricity consumption, as well as system revenues of minigrids in East Africa.

This project was in collaboration with researchers from Duke University and Carnegie Mellon University, and Study Partners: CrossBoundary Advisory, Energy 4 Impact and the Rockefeller Foundation.


Comparison of electricity consumption patterns between decentralized electricity customers in East Africa

Solar home systems and minigrids are the two main ways of providing decentralized electricity access to areas where grid extension is not possible or economically viable. This project seeks to explicate the electricity consumption and spending behavior and patterns of solar home system and minigrid customers. We believe that a relative analysis of these two customer groups and their electricity patterns can be valuable for understanding broad similarities and differences among these groups, projecting growth, and informing policy, regulation, and investment in these sectors.

This project is in collaboration with researchers from the University of Houston.


Community-based hybrid renewable powered milk cooling systems for smallholder dairy farmers in rural Tanzania

(Loughborough University, Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology - 2016)

Due to lack of milk cooling facilities, smallholder dairy farmers in areas without access to reliable grid electricity face problems of high milk spoilage and limited access to formal markets, which limits their income and standard of living. Majority of these smallholder dairy farmers lack the capital to invest in individual on-farm solar or biogas milk cooling systems already commercially available. This project therefore examined the economic viability of integrating a renewable based milk-cooling system in a dairy market hub system, which is a is a collective arrangement that aims to stimulate grouping of dairy farmers to produce and sell milk in bulk, as well as have group access to inputs and services. Key risk factors having the greatest impact on system viability were identified and a stochastic approach, by means of a Monte Carlo simulation was employed to determine the risk-adjusted economic performance of the project. Advisor: Dr. Richard Blanchard

Techno-economic feasibility of renewable-based microgrid systems in Northern Kenya

(Smith College, Picker Engineering Program - 2012)

By 2012, six diesel power stations were the only source of electricity for remote villages in Northern Kenya. The government proposed the installation of 3 MW of wind and solar energy systems in facilities with existing diesel generators. This project was a contribution to this effort by designing and evaluating techno-economically feasible configurations of hybrid minigrid systems, incorporating solar and wind energy, as well as energy storage in HOMER to replace these stand-alone diesel power systems. A Multi-Attribute Tradeoff Analysis was employed to determine am optimal hybrid system configuration that would minimize CO2 emissions at a minimal net present cost. Advisor: Professor Judith Cardell


Honorable mention, Link Foundation Energy Fellowship, 2020

Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Three Minute Thesis Competition, 2020 (1st place)

Spaulding Smith Fellowship, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2018

Dean’s Fellow Program, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2018


June Lukuyu, Aggrey Muhebwa, and Jay Taneja. 2020. Fish and Chips: Converting Fishing Boats for Electric Mobility to Serve as Minigrid Anchor Loads. In The Eleventh ACM International Conference on Future Energy Systems (e-Energy’20), June 22–26, 2020, Virtual Event, Australia. ACM, New York, NY, USA, 12 pages. https://doi.org/10.1145/3396851.3397687

Fetter R., Lukuyu, J., Taneja, J., & Williams, N. (2019, June 27). Can microgrids enable macro development? Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2019/06/27/can-microgrids-enable-macro-development/

Lukuyu, J., Blanchard, R. and Rowley, P.N. (2019). A risk-adjusted techno-economic analysis for renewable-based milk cooling in remote dairy farming communities in East Africa. Renewable Energy, 130, pp. 700-713, 2019.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2018.06.101

Lukuyu, J. and Cardell, J.B. (2014). Hybrid Power System Options for Off-Grid Rural Electrification in Northern Kenya. Smart Grid and Renewable Energy, 5, pp. 89-106. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/sgre.2014.55009.

M. Murage, J. B. Cardell, J. Lukuyu and C. L. Anderson, "The Impact of Variable Market Price on Optimal Control of Wind-Hydro Storage System in Kenya," 2014 47th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Waikoloa, HI, 2014, pp. 2417-2425, doi: 10.1109/HICSS.2014.303.

J. Lukuyu, "Wind-diesel microgrid system for remote villages in Kenya," 2012 North American Power Symposium (NAPS), Champaign, IL, 2012, pp. 1-6, doi: 10.1109/NAPS.2012.6336319.


Maziwa Zaidi Policy Forum, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Lukuyu, J., Blanchard, R. and Omore, A. 2017. Off-grid solar milk cooling systems offer technical and market opportunities for remote dairy producers. Poster prepared for the Maziwa Zaidi Policy Forum, Dar es Salaam, 23-24 May 2017. Nairobi: ILRI