Open to the Public, Talks & Lectures, University-wide
20 Oct 2020
Zoom Webcast

Hugo Neu Corporation Sustainability Seminar Series: "The Role of Charcoal in International Energy Systems"

Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering

Catherine Nabukalu, Project Coordinator at the District of Columbia

The Hugo Neu Corporation Sustainability Seminar Series is a weekly lecture hosting 12 speakers and 6 panelists in the Fall 2020 semester.

by Catherine Nabukalu, Project Coordinator at the District of Columbia


The relevance, and consumption, of charcoal as a source of fuel has persisted worldwide and sustained complex informal supply chains to meet its demand.

From the rudimentary methods of its production and transportation to its sale as a licit commodity in various markets, key elements of the charcoal value chain will be highlighted, and how they contribute to the microeconomic development of emerging economies. Most charcoal is produced from trees, thus leaving a disproportionate burden on local forests of key producing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South America –Are there alternative sources of charcoal? What is the extent of their adaptation? In international energy development, investment in gas and electricity grid connections is increasing to strategically supplant charcoal and other forms of biomass and consequently reduce “energy poverty.” – Will this succeed? Is electricity a viable alternative to charcoal for cooking in urban households? What is the future of charcoal? Can the world continue to trade and consume charcoal without damaging its ecosystems?


Catherine is a Project Coordinator at the District of Columbia’s Sustainable Energy Utility. She liaises between cross-functional teams to attain energy efficiency through technical fixes in buildings and public spaces in Washington DC. She obtained her Master of Environmental Studies at the University of Pennsylvania (US) and BSc (Hons) in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at Aston University in Birmingham (UK). She has published about electrification and the role of charcoal in international energy systems. Catherine is an honoree of a range of awards in Business Sustainability, including the Renewable Energy Markets fellowship (2017) from the Center for Resource Solutions (USA), GreenBiz Emerging Leaders (VERGE 2017), and she was featured on the 30 under 30 list of youth leaders in Sustainability (2020) by GreenBiz, for her work on the intersection of business and sustainability.


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