Access to Energy for Sustainable Human Development. Project analysis with renewable energy and communal management models in rural areas.

Author: Pau Lillo Rodrigo - 8 july 2016 -

Directors: Alejandra Boni / Laia Ferrer

Departament Enginyeria Mecànica

Energy services are crucial for eradicating poverty, improving human welfare and raising living standards. Thus, providing appropriate and reliable modern energy and sanitation services using secure and environmentally sound technologies, in conformity with socioeconomic needs and cultural values, is essential in the race for sustainable development. Autonomous systems based on the use of renewable energies (RE) have proven suitable for providing affordable, reliable, safe, and high-quality energy and sanitation services to isolated communities. Taking this into consideration, the objectives of this thesis are to investigate the contributions of the Human and Sustainable Development (HSD) approach to the analysis of RE projects in isolated rural areas in developing countries and understand how these projects to provide access to energy in impoverished rural areas should be developed according to the paradigm of HSD. Regarding the first objective, it is considered that, generally, these types of technology projects are designed, implemented and evaluated following strategies consistent with utilitarian approaches, focused on the generation of new resources. However, to analyze the impact of these projects on the lives of the people, in this thesis we use an approach that allows us to extend the analysis on several key dimensions of development that should be considered in the process of these projects. In particular, we have used the HSD approach, which considers that technological projects in rural areas should not only be aimed at increasing levels of access to affordable, reliable, secure and high quality energy, as well as improving the quality of the environment, including the immediate environment in homes, but also at strengthening the autonomy and empowerment of people, expanding their opportunities and freedoms. This approach has been used in six projects to provide access to energy in Andean communities in Peru, carried out by the NGO Practical Action, which consider only RE and community management models. To analyse these projects against the precepts of HSD approach, a special methodology has been designed, incorporating tools to collect data related to the context and individual conversion factors affecting people's capabilities, with particular emphasis on the gender component. Regarding the second objective, based on the results of the analyses, recommendations have been made to overcome barriers and difficulties identified for such projects to truly be catalysts of HSD. Additionally, a management model has been designed to handle any number of different technologies, considering the lessons learned from this research, which has been implemented in a project that includes 6 types of technologies simultaneously, and whose sustainability has proven satisfactory.


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