Imperial College London

Philip Sandwell

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Physics

Academic Visitor







Blackett LaboratorySouth Kensington Campus





Philip researches the potential of renewable technologies to bring electricity to rural communities in developing countries and in situations of displacement such as refugee camps. This spans topics such as electricity demand estimation, technological performance of solar PV and battery storage, integration with other generation technologies as part of hybrid systems, and analysing their impact in terms of cost, CO2 mitigation potential and service quality. 


Philip developed the CLOVER model for simulating, optimising and analysing rural electricity systems and investigating the implications of their deployment strategies. CLOVER has been applied to studies in South Asia, Africa and Latin America to assess the performance of renewable electricity systems for household electricity, productive energy services, power for health clinics and more. The CLOVER model is open source and is continually developed to increase its functionality.

His research has also goes beyond the technical domain by considering how to incorporate social, environmental, institutional and commercial considerations into energy system design. These factors help to ensure sustainable energy solutions meet the needs of their users long into the future.

Philip's research has been supported by partnerships across academia, the private sector and civil society. He has coordinated projects with partners in East Africa (Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti), South Asia (India, Nepal) and South America (Brazil, Peru).

Engagement with civil society

Philip is currently seconded to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research as part of the Coordination Unit of the Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement. His work focuses on policies to increase access to sustainable energy in humanitarian settings.

He was previously seconded into Practical Action, an international NGO which aims to alleviate poverty in developing countries. He worked on the Renewable Energy for Refugees project, a collaboration between Practical Action and UNHCR, which brings energy access to households, businesses and community facilities in three refugee camps in Rwanda.


Philip completed his PhD in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London under the supervision of Professor Jenny Nelson FRS and Dr Ned Ekins-Daukes. His thesis addressed the potential of solar technologies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in rural communities in India and was funded by the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment and Climate-KIC. Previously he was awarded a First Class Honours BSc and MSci degree in Physics with Theoretical Physics, also from Imperial College London.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Sandwell P, Chan NLA, Foster S, et al., 2016, Off-grid solar photovoltaic systems for rural electrification and emissions mitigation in India, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol:156, ISSN:0927-0248, Pages:147-156

Emmott CJM, Moia D, Sandwell P, et al., 2016, In-situ, long-term operational stability of organic photovoltaics for off-grid applications in Africa, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, Vol:149, ISSN:0927-0248, Pages:284-293

More Publications