COLOMBO, Emanuela

Emanuela Colombo is full professor at Politecnico di Milano at the Department of Energy in Thermoeconomics and Energy Modelling as well as in Engineering and Cooperation for Development. At the same university, She serves as Rector’s Delegate to Cooperation and Development since 2005. She is also Chair Holder of the UNESCO CHAIR in Energy for Sustainable Development since 2012. In 2016, She has been appointed by the Italian Conference of the Rector (CRUI) as the nominated representative of the academic system within the “National Council for Cooperation and Development”.

Emanuela Colombo has achieved both a PhD in Energy Engineering and a Nuclear Engineering MSc at Politecnico di Milano in Italy where she is currently Full Professor at the Department of Energy. At the same university, She serves also as Rector’s Delegate to Cooperation and Development since 2005.

She worked for Ansaldo Energia, ABB Research, Fluent France and Fluent Italia branches of Fluent Inc. (now ANSYS-FLUENT). In 2001 she moved to an academic career where her interest was originally focused on heat transfer for power generation, turbulence phenomenology and CFD modelling. From the research perspective, she has then investigated the interrelations between energy, environment and sustainable development at the global level and access to energy and local development in developing countries by adopting advanced exergy methodologies, energy and industrial ecology modelling tools for performance and impact evaluation of energy systems. She is now leading the Sustainable Energy System Analysis and Modelling group at the Department of Energy SESAM – Sustainable Energy System Analysis and Modelling (

She was the scientific coordinator of 4 European projects and one international tender on Green Innovation (Egypt), Sustainable Energy Engineering (Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia), Water Energy and Food nexus (Egypt), Modern Energy services in refugee camps (Lebanon, Somalia, RCA and Colombia) and Capacity Building in Engineering (Tanzania). She has currently managed the Africa Innovation Leaders Programme funded by the Italian Agency of Cooperation in Kenya, Ethiopia, Niger, Nigeria, Mozambique and Tunisia) and partners within the LEAP-RE HORIZON 2020 CSA and RIA. She is also working on consultancy and advocacy projects on access to energy for different Italian private players and NGOs active in East, Central and South Africa. She is author of more than 250 scientific papers, 122 of which are ISI or Scopus1 and co-author of the book “Renewable Energy for Unleashing Sustainable Development” by Springer.

In line with this interest in 2004 she was one of the founders of Engineers Without Border in Milan. In 2005, She was named Rector’s Delegate to Cooperation and Development at Politecnico di Milano, position still covered for promoting the role of the academic education and research in coping the complex challenges of global development and human promotion.

From 2007 to 2019 she was coordinator of a Network of Universities focus on Cooperation and Development (CUCS) which includes more than 30 Universities. In 2009 she has been awarded by the Club Mille Miglia Foundation in Italy as “courageous intelligence” for her research interest and social commitment in developing country.

In 2011 She introduced a new track in the MSc in Energy Engineering focus on “Energy for Development” at Politecnico di Milano and she promoted an honours programme for the Schools of Engineering focus on “Engineering for Sustainable development” to promote global dimensions within engineering education launched in 2015.

For her experience on energy for sustainable development, she worked as international expert for the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and served in the Scientific Committee of UNIDO-ICS (Trieste). In 2012 she has been named Chair holder of the UNESCO CHAIR on Energy for Sustainable Development assigned to the Department of Energy and adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha (Tanzania).

She was also Custodian of the Workstream on Efficiency of the Africa Europe Energy Partnership (AEEP) and she is working closely with the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank (ESMAP). She has been appointed by the Italian Conference of the Rector (CRUI) as the nominated representative of the academic system within the “National Council for Cooperation and Development”.

She was member of the Sustainable Development panel of Electricité De France (EDF) from 2012 to 2016 and between 2018-2020 she was scientific coordinator for a research line dedicated to Africa in Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM). From January 2020 is an elected member of the Academic Senate of Politecnico di Milano.

Key publications

Here below one paper and a book are presented as the starting point of a research team within SESAM:

Colombo, E., Bologna, S., Masera, D. (2013). Renewable energy for unleashing sustainable development. Renewable Energy for Unleashing Sustainable Development, pp. 1-302. Cited 21 times.… DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-00284-2

Mandelli, S., Barbieri, J., Mereu, R., Colombo, E. (2016). Off-grid systems for rural electrification in developing countries: Definitions, classification and a comprehensive literature review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 58, pp. 1621-1646. Cited 202 times. DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2015.12.338


The list of some recent 2021 publication are reported:

Stevanato, N., Rocco, M.V., Giuliani, M., Castelletti, A., Colombo, E. (2021). Advancing the representation of reservoir hydropower in energy systems modelling: The case of Zambesi River Basin. PLoS ONE, 16 (12 December), art. no. e0259876. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259876

Stevanato, N., Corigliano, S., Petrelli, M., Tonini, F., Merlo, M., Colombo, E.  (2021). Rural areas electrification strategies through shadow costs analysis - Bolivian Highlands case study. Energy for Sustainable Development, 65, pp. 162-174. DOI: 10.1016/j.esd.2021.10.009

Falchetta, G., Stevanato, N., Moner-Girona, M., Mazzoni, D., Colombo, E., Hafner, M. (2021). The M-LED platform: Advancing electricity demand assessment for communities living in energy poverty. Environmental Research Letters, 16 (7), art. no. 074038. DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac0cab

Rocco, M.V., Fumagalli, E., Vigone, C., Miserocchi, A., Colombo, E. (2021). Enhancing energy models with geo-spatial data for the analysis of future electrification pathways: The case of Tanzania. Energy Strategy Reviews, 34, art. no. 100614. DOI: 10.1016/j.esr.2020.100614


Complete list of publications 

Scopus preview