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Sustainability of rural energy access in developing countries
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Energy Technology, Energy and Climate Studies, ECS.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The importance of access to modern energy has been well understood by governments and donor agencies in many developing countries, and significant effort has been made in recent years to address energy access challenges. However, despite these efforts, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has predicted that the energy access problem will remain unresolved by 2030. Therefore, adequate and appropriate action is needed to resolve this problem more quickly. This dissertation analyses policies and their impacts and will help researchers and policy makers in developing countries to (i) understand the impact of policies in the formation of a renewable energy (RE) market, (ii) consider the determinants of technological choices when promoting access to energy services and, (iii) better appreciate the sustainability performance of rural energy. For the purpose of analysis, several country cases from Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa region were carried out as these are the two main regions where the energy access problem are most acute.

To understand the impact of policies in the formation of RE based rural electrification market, a case study was conducted in Nepal. The study has shown that rural electrification has been expanding as a consequence of market-oriented policies. When it comes to selection of electrification path-ways, different technological alternatives are analysed in Afghanistan and Nepal, taking levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) as the means to select cost effective options. The analysis has presented best-fit conditions for these various technological pathways in the two countries and verified whether they are following the appropriate and cost effective course in their efforts to expand rural electrification. For understanding the determinants of cooking fuel choices and to analyse policy implications in the transition of large populations from traditional to modern fuels, fuel choices are modelled in the case of China. Choices are modelled (using MESSAGE–ACCESS mod-el) with standard economic variables such as income, technology costs and fuel prices, along with some unique variable such as inconvenience costs. Future access scenarios are designed considering different policy options to accelerate the transition.

Sustainability is one of the key concerns in terms of energy access. This dissertation introduces methods for evaluating (i) the sustainability performance of energy technologies and (ii) the status and progress of developing countries in providing sustainable energy access. Different sets of sustainability indicators are considered for the rural energy sector and aggregated to form a single composite index. The energy technology sustainability index (ETSI) is used for assessing the performance of different energy technological systems in the case of India. The analysis reveals that mature technologies such as biomass gasifiers, biogas and micro hydro have relatively better sustainability performance among the options considered, while solar and wind, though showing fairly good improvement in sustainability performance, still have difficulties competing with more mature and conventional technologies without policy support. The Energy Sustainability Index (ESI) has been applied to China, India, South Africa, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh and Ghana between 1990 and 2010 to evaluate the status and progress made by these countries in rural energy sustainability. The analysis suggests that South Africa’s rural energy sustainability index is highest followed by China, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Ghana respectively. The rural energy sustainability has improved relatively over time in all countries except Ghana.

The dissertation shows that policies are helping the rapid expansion of the RE market though with uneven penetration in rural Nepal. Access to credit and cumbersome subsidy delivery mechanism are perceived as the major factors affecting the expansion of rural electrification, requiring innovation. The electrification pathways taken by Nepal seem functional and moving in the right direction but some flaws in the delivery mechanisms require attention. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, pathways are not well defined and the country lacks a clear-cut national policy framework for the expansion of rural electrification. The analysis on fuel transition shows that even a fast developing country such as China will continue to have serious problems guaranteeing the access to solid fuels for cooking for one third of its rural population by 2030. The problem could be more severe in poorer nations. There-fore, further policy intervention addressing the high implicit discount rate of the poorer section of the population, reducing the upfront cost of more efficient technology (stoves) or the costs of cleaner fuels with subsidies must be considered to promote energy transition.

Overall, this dissertation has analysed key issues in the global discussion about sustainable energy access. The methods for sustainability assessment suggested have been specially designed for rural settings in developing countries and are instrumental to assess the performance of rural energy technologies and track the progress of sustainable energy access efforts among rural households.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2014. , xxii, 150 p.
Series
Trita-ECS. Report, 14:01
Keyword [en]
Energy Access, Rural electrification, Rural energy, Household, Renewable energy, Off-grid, Mini-grid, Grid, Pathways, Fuel choice, Indicator, Sustainability index
National Category
Energy Systems
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-140949ISBN: 978-91-7595-003-7 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-140949DiVA: diva2:693663
Public defence
2014-03-07, F3, Lindstedtsvägen 26, KTH, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

QC 20140210

Available from: 2014-02-10 Created: 2014-02-04 Last updated: 2014-02-28Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Financing off-grid rural electrification: Country case Nepal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Financing off-grid rural electrification: Country case Nepal
2011 (English)In: Energy, ISSN 0360-5442, E-ISSN 1873-6785, Vol. 36, no 4, 2194-2201 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

More than 61% of the total population of Nepal has no access to electricity. The majority is poor and live in rural areas. In recent years, rural electrification has had high priority in government policies, and micro hydro and solar PV have been the most commonly adopted off-grid technologies. The financial mix in the off-grid rural electrification is generally characterized by subsidy, equity and credit. In this paper, we analyze how rural electrification has been funded and the impact of subsidy policies on the renewable energy market, focusing on the projects implemented under the ‘subsidy policy 2000’. Our study is based on official data obtained from authorities in Nepal and a survey carried out among private supply and installation companies, NGOs and financial institutions. The study shows that awareness levels in adopting RE-technologies and willingness of people to access and pay for electricity have increased significantly. However, there is a huge financial gap between the cost of electrification and the affordability. Bridging this gap is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed for the smooth expansion of rural electrification in the country.

Keyword
Rural electrification, Off-grid, Financing, Subsidy, Credit, Equity
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
SRA - Energy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-33189 (URN)10.1016/j.energy.2010.07.004 (DOI)000289605900042 ()2-s2.0-79952815334 (Scopus ID)
Funder
StandUp
Note
5th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy Water And Environment Systems, 29 Sept - 03 Oct 2009, Dubrovnik, Croatia. QC 20110502Available from: 2011-04-29 Created: 2011-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
2. Renewable Energy Market in Rural Electrification: Country Case Nepal
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Renewable Energy Market in Rural Electrification: Country Case Nepal
2012 (English)In: Energy for Sustainable Development, ISSN 0973-0826, Vol. 16, no 2, 168-178 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Markets for Renewable Energy (RE) technologies are emerging in Nepal in connection with rural electrification in the country. Two promising technologies are in evidence – solar home system (SHS) and micro-hydro. The availability of abundant renewable resources, lack of fossil fuels and difficult geographical terrain for grid line extensions contribute to the advantages of RE based decentralized rural electrification in Nepal. The distributional analysis shows increase in extensive growth and decrease in the intensive growth rate of rural electrification thus indicating market expansion with uneven penetration among the rural people. Solar PV technology is still not in the reach of the economic poor. This paper discusses and analyzes RE based rural electrification supply models, economics behind rural electrification, market drivers and market distribution in the rural areas of Nepal. Access to credit and cumbersome subsidy delivery mechanism have been perceived as the major factors affecting the expansion of rural electrification by the stakeholders, requiring innovations in credit and subsidy delivery system so that a larger rural population can have access to electrification.

Keyword
Renewable energy market, rural electrification, Nepal
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Research subject
SRA - Energy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-33192 (URN)10.1016/j.esd.2012.03.001 (DOI)000305671600004 ()2-s2.0-84862009531 (Scopus ID)
Funder
StandUp
Note

QC 20120724

Available from: 2011-04-29 Created: 2011-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
3. Analyzing cooking fuel and stove choices in China till 2030
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Analyzing cooking fuel and stove choices in China till 2030
2012 (English)In: Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, ISSN 1941-7012, Vol. 4, no 3, 031805- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many people in China still burn low grade solid fuels in traditional stoves to meet their cooking and heating energy demands. This results in significant pollution, affecting the health of especially women and children who are exposed most. The mode of energy consumption and types of stoves in use may change with increasing prosperity. Product specific and socio-economic parameters also influence these choices. We analyze cooking fuel and stove choices in China. Choices are modeled to depend on standard economic variables such as income, technology costs, and fuel prices, along with some variables unique to the developing country setting such as inconvenience costs. Our analysis shows that 24% of the rural and 17% of the urban population will still depend on solid fuels in 2030 under a business as usual scenario. Various policy scenarios that can accelerate transition to modern fuels by 2030 are also analyzed in this paper and their costs, energy, emissions and health impacts assessed.

Keyword
air pollution control, coal, domestic appliances, energy consumption, government policies, health hazards
National Category
Energy Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-103102 (URN)10.1063/1.4730416 (DOI)000305882200006 ()2-s2.0-84863529074 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150629

Available from: 2012-10-04 Created: 2012-10-04 Last updated: 2015-06-29Bibliographically approved
4. Alternative pathways for providing access to electricity in developing countries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Alternative pathways for providing access to electricity in developing countries
2013 (English)In: Renewable Enegy, ISSN 0960-1481, Vol. 57, 299-310 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The discussion on electrification pathways tends to dangle between the merits of centralized on-grid versus decentralized off-grid electrification, and most of the time, both routes are promoted in parallel. However, the basis for choosing pathways has neither been very clear nor rational. This study compares three pathways for rural electrification considering (i) off-grid renewable energy (RE) technologies for individual households (ii) mini grids (with micro hydro and diesel generators) and (iii) grid extension. Different technological pathways are analyzed considering various technical and socio-economic parameters in two country cases: Nepal and Afghanistan. Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) is taken as the main basis for comparison of the various options, in which both environmental externalities and life cycle costs are considered. The analysis shows that the micro hydro based mini grid technology is the most competitive alternative for electrifying isolated and remote rural areas in both countries. Individual household technology should be promoted only in places with scattered households where there is no possibility of mini grid solution. The choice of technology and the pathway adopted in Nepal seems functional, though some flaws within the pathways need to be addressed. In Afghanistan, the technological pathways for rural electrification are not well-defined and the country lacks a clear cut national policy framework for rural electrification. Here, micro hydro based mini grid would be a more sustainable proposition rather than diesel generators as promoted in the transitional phase. Afghanistan can benefit from lessons learnt in Nepal not least in the formation of markets for renewable technologies.

Keyword
Levelized cost, off-grid, mini grid, grid, pathways, least cost
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-117716 (URN)10.1016/j.renene.2013.01.057 (DOI)000319025000036 ()2-s2.0-84874566006 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20130628

Available from: 2013-02-02 Created: 2013-02-02 Last updated: 2014-02-10Bibliographically approved
5. Using a sustainability index to assess energy technologies for rural electrification
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Using a sustainability index to assess energy technologies for rural electrification
2015 (English)In: Renewable & sustainable energy reviews, ISSN 1364-0321, E-ISSN 1879-0690, Vol. 41, 1351-1365 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper introduces a method for evaluating the sustainability performance of energy technologies applied in rural electrification, using the multivariate technique called Principal component analysis (PCA).The sustainability is assessed in terms of energy technology sustainability index (ETSI). The ETSI has been used for assessing the sustainability performance of ten different energy systems in the case of India. Since this method is static in nature, the sustainability performance analysis is made for three different years (2005, 2010 and 2015) to capture technological advancements and changes in market conditions for the various technologies over time. The result shows that mature technologies such as biomass gasifiers, biogas and microhydro technologies have relatively better sustainability performance among the options analyzed. There is slight increment in their sustainability performance in the ten year period considered. Emerging technologies such as solar and wind have fairly good improvement in the sustainability performance over the studied time but still have difficulties competing with the mature technologies and conventional technologies without policy support. Analysis has been made with probable, minimum and maximum capital costs, operational and fuel costs to capture uncertainty among the input assumptions, and sensitivity has been reflected in the analysis of energy technology sustainability index (ETSI). This ETSI could help improve energy technology assessments, particularly when it comes to the feasibility of available alternatives.

Keyword
Energy technology sustainability index, Indicators, Composite indicators, Principal component analysis, Electrification
National Category
Energy Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-141145 (URN)10.1016/j.rser.2014.09.018 (DOI)000346622400097 ()2-s2.0-84908265348 (Scopus ID)
Note

QC 20150128

Available from: 2014-02-10 Created: 2014-02-10 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
6. Assessing rural energy sustainability in developing countries
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assessing rural energy sustainability in developing countries
2014 (English)In: Energy for Sustainable Development, ISSN 0973-0826, Vol. 19, no 1, 15-28 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Providing sustainable energy access is one of the most critical global challenges. This paper introduces a method for evaluating the status and progress of rural household energy sustainability in developing countries using a new composite indicator, the energy sustainability index (ESI). The ESI combines 13 techno-economic, environmental and social indicators of sustainability using principal component analysis (PCA). We apply the ES! to China, India, South Africa, Sri-Lanka, Bangladesh and Ghana between 1990 and 2010. The analysis suggests that South Africa's rural energy sustainability index is highest followed by China, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and Ghana respectively. All the countries' rural energy sustainability has improved relatively over time except Ghana's. Improvements result mainly from increasing rural electricity use and increasing access to clean and efficient cooking fuels.

Keyword
Rural household energy, sustainability index, indicators, principal component analysis
National Category
Energy Systems
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-140950 (URN)10.1016/j.esd.2014.01.008 (DOI)000334652100003 ()2-s2.0-84894314514 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Sida - Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
Note

QC 20140611

Available from: 2014-02-04 Created: 2014-02-04 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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