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Dissertation accessible at
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:luen4-opus-144798
URL: http://opus.uni-lueneburg.de/opus/volltexte/2018/14479/


Sustainability of off-grid Photovoltaic Systems for Rural Electrification: Empirical Evidence from selected Andean Countries

Nachhaltigkeit nicht netzangebundener Photovoltaik Systeme für ländliche Elektrifizierung: Empirische Evidenz aus ausgewählten andinen Ländern

Féron, Sarah

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Keywords from authority file SWD (German): Ländlicher Raum , Elektrifizierung , Nachhaltigkeit , Energie , Anden
Free keywords (English): Rural Electrification , sustainable energy , Andean Countries
Institute: Nachhaltigkeitsmgmt./-ökonomie
Dewey Decimal Classification: Natürliche Ressourcen, Energie und Umwelt
Document type: Dissertation
Advisor: Heinrichs, Harald (Prof. Dr. )
Language: English
Date of examination: 21.11.2017
Year of creation: 2017
Date of publication: 08.02.2018
Abstract in English: I aim to assess the sustainability of rural electrification efforts based on off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems in three Andean countries: Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. Although deployment of off-grid PV solutions for rural electrification began in the early 1990s in the Andean region, most of the projects turned out to be unsustainable and did not last. Prior efforts have addressed the different issues and barriers that plagued these projects and inhibited their sustainability. However, these prior analyses were mostly quantitative; systematic qualitative evaluations have been scarce.
In this thesis, I address the following research question: ´Are the rural electrification programs (based on off-grid PV Systems) in the Andean countries sustainable?´
In order to answer this research question, I conducted an exhaustive qualitative document analysis complemented by semi-structured expert interviews. The interviewees included experts from different ministries, project managers from leading Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), public and private companies´ representatives, supervisors, and researchers. Although I also describe several relevant PV-based electrification efforts in the Andean countries, my research was aimed at providing an overall picture of the rural electrification efforts in these countries, rather than measuring the success or failure of specific projects.
The gathered information allowed me to assess the sustainability of rural electrification efforts in the Andean countries. This assessment was based on a set of indicators corresponding to the four dimensions of sustainability considered in this thesis: institutional, economical, environmental, and socio-cultural.
I found that Ecuador and Chile have consistently failed to ensure mechanisms for the operation and maintenance of the deployed off-grid systems, which has made these solutions in poor Chilean and Ecuadorian communities inevitably unsustainable. Although Peru has adopted a cross-tariff scheme, the Peruvian case shows that ensuring the funding of off-grid PV solutions is not enough. Peruvian officials appear to be unaware of the importance of local participation (local values and lifestyles are constantly disregarded) and most of the projects have been designed without the participation and engagement of the communities, which has often led to project failures and payment defaults. Although each country has its particular challenges, I found that the three Andean countries have consistently neglected the importance of strong formal institutions with a flexible and decentralized structure, which in turn significantly compromised the rural electrification effort in these countries.
Abstract in German: Die Nachhaltigkeit ländlicher Elektrifizierungsbemühungen auf Basis von netzfernen Photovoltaik-Systemen wird in dieser Arbeit in drei Andenländern untersucht: in Chile, Ecuador und Peru. Der Einsatz von netzunabhängigen Photovoltaik (PV) - Anlagen für die ländliche Elektrifizierung begann Anfang der 1990er Jahre in der Andenregion, doch die meisten Projekte erwiesen sich als nicht nachhaltig und scheiterten schließlich. Bisherige Untersuchungen haben die verschiedenen Probleme und Hindernisse aufgezeigt, die diese Projekte beeinträchtigten und ihre Nachhaltigkeit negativ beeinflussten. Diese bisherigen Analysen sind jedoch größtenteils quantitativ; systematische qualitative Bewertungen finden sich jedoch selten.

Vor diesem Hintergrund gehe ich in dieser Arbeit auf folgende Forschungsfrage ein:


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