BackgroundSustainable energy is a key resourcein ensuring continued growth and development of any economy.
The inclusion of access to affordableand sustainable energy as part of UNDP’s 2030 Agenda for SustainableDevelopment signifies the urgency of universal energy access. Ensuringreliable, clean and affordable energy to all results in increased productivityand improved access to basic amenities. 1 However, more than1.1 billion of the world’s population do not have access to electricity. Majorityof this population live in rural regions in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and SouthAmerica. This limited access to electricity impacts the quality of life withinthese rural area. This ultimately hinders the ability of the country to progressas a nation. While several governments in developing countries areworking towards increased electrification, their policies focus on extension ofthe centralised grid.
However, low population density resulting in a relativelypoor customer base causes high cost of infrastructure and maintenance percustomer discourages rural electrification. Another challenge is the generationcapacity tends to fall below total connected loads. This creates the need foroff-grid solutions in developing countries which unfortunately face variousfinancing barriers. This research seeks to investigate the technical andeconomic characteristics of a sustainable project. Given the skills andexpertise required to operate and maintain an electrical network are limited,the demand for simple and cost effective solutions allowing for supply anddistribution of electrical energy is significant.
Research and investigationinto existing solutions and potential solutions to the challenges presentedallows for a better understanding into the effectiveness of the way in which thesechallenges are tackled. Project Description: The key objective ofour research is to assess sustainable energy systems implemented in developingcountries in order to determine what qualities are key for a successfulproject. Our primary focus is on the technical and economic characteristicsthat influence the overall performance of the project. We will investigate the economic feasibility of the differentelectrification solutions. From an economic perspective, we will focus on four areas:Infrastructure, financial constraints, financial sustainability and governmentpolicy.
Understanding the successes and failures within each area allows for aneffective economic evaluation. In order to achieve sustainable energy access, it isimportant to consider the economic situation and subsequent challenges that characterisedeveloping nations. Such economies have low GDP therefore limited capital forinfrastructure. The adoptedelectrification solutions need to be cost-effective with minimum operation andmaintenance costs. A crucial factor in relation to any electrical system is notjust initial funding and implementation cost but financial sustainability.Investigating how sustainable a technology is in terms of maintenance, energytransportation cost and security gives insight into the overall viability ofthe technology.
We will investigatethe available financial and institutional support, initial customer costs and tariffscompared to the economic situation of the community as we consider theperformance of the energy system in the case study. 2 The followingquestions would be considered: Was the project economically viable i.e. able tosecure sufficient financing?Is the implemented project financially sustainableover the long-term?What mechanisms or subsidies were put in placeto ensure operation and maintenance costs remain affordable over time? Whichbusiness models have been successful?What are the potential financial risks given theeconomic situation of such communities?Is government policy ensuring that the countryis utilising the available resources effectively? Are the present regulationsfavourable to the technology used? Government policy or lack of it contributesheavily to the success of any technology. Once these questions are considered for each case study,informed financial recommendations can then be made to ensure cost-effectivesolutions.MethodologyOur research project will take the case study approach as weare primarily interested in comparisons that can identify reasons for successor failure of particular solutions.
We will focus on specific on-going orfinished projects within similar contexts and assess the similar themes andresults. We will carry out a comparative investigation between the projects inorder to determine how and why certain solutions work or fail.Selection of appropriate case studies requires carefulconsideration to ensure proper analysis is carried out. The cases ought to berelevant, contextual and have accessible data as document analysis will be ourmajor source of data. 3 References 1 United Nations Development Programme, “UNDP SUPPORT TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 7,” UNDP, New York, 2016. 2 R. C.
a. F. L. Sarah Feron, “Rural Electrification Efforts Based on Off-Grid Photovoltaic Systems in the Andean Region:Comparative Assessment of Their Sustainability,” MDPI – Sustainability, vol.
9, no. 10, pp. 1-4, 2017.
3 D. Goodrick, “Comparative Case Studies, Methodological Briefs: Impact Evaluation 9,” UNICEF Office of Research, Florence, 2014.