IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 32

an additional Us$5 from private-sector
investments. Unleashing rural financial
resources and entrepreneurial capacity
could help governments meet the electricity
needs of rural communities and overcome
budget shortages.
in view of the diversity of the needs
and the affordability issues faced by the
rural customer base, both initially and
over time, it is extremely important that
local conditions and perceptions be used
as the starting point for rural electrification planning, subsidies, and tariff setting.
in principle, the technology is available,
but adaptation to rural circumstances is
a must, on both the demand and the supply side. Technical solutions should be
adapted to rural realities, including the
figure 3. PV electricity supply, Islas Flotantes, Peru (photo courtesy of Trudy
locally
available energy resources. This
Coenen).
idea also applies to the technical stanTo successfully implement utility-scale rural and remote dards adopted for the rural infrastructure. The technical
area electrification programs, an appropriate and sustained standards applied to traditional distribution systems often
enabling environment is needed, and in this respect a number cause overdimensioning relative to the low demand in rural
of critical success factors are of utmost importance. Table 3 areas, resulting in high costs. house wiring can cause similar
provides a summary of the key determinants for such large problems if the wiring standards are too strict. cheap, readymade boards can provide a solution.
programs. These are briefly discussed below.
The institutional framework should allow for the introduction of innovative solutions to expand electricity services Renaissance of Small-Scale
and enable private initiatives. appropriate legislation and Rural Electricity Providers
regulation is needed to enable a commercial approach to supplying electricity to the 1.2 billion people currently
power supply and operational autonomy of the utility.
unserved in the developing world will require deployment
long-term political and social stability is a must to get of a variety of technologies and business options, from
the donor community, financial institutions, and other stake- utility-scale to private and community-based schemes. Priholders on board. any electrification program should fit vately owned, small, decentralized power stations with local
into well-developed national electrification and rural devel- distribution grids have existed all over the world since the
opment plans. The benefits of electrification must be made beginning of electrification. in countries with mature and
widely available and should not be limited to the commer- extended central grids, most of these systems have been
cially most attractive opportunities ("cherry picking").
decommissioned, mainly for financial reasons. Though cenThe financial framework and the enabling environment in tralized grid systems will continue to play a major role in
developing countries are by far the most important determi- power supply, a renaissance of decentralized power supply is
nants for successful and sustainable electrification. it should clearly visible, however.
be mentioned that there is a salient difference between those
it is generally accepted that in emerging economies,
countries that are developing currently and the nations that universal access to electricity cannot be achieved using
were industrializing around 1900. The latter already had rea- central grid-based systems alone. given the remoteness
sonably well-developed economies, and they could afford to of the rural and often marginalized areas to be electrified
invest in electrification. in general, governments and power in the future, high capital costs, high risks, and difficult
utilities in developing countries face difficulties in securing demand forecasts are some of the obstacles connected with
sufficient domestic and foreign capital to finance much-needed the extension of the central grid.
investments in large-scale generation, transmission, and distriTraditionally, the alternatives to grid connection have
bution. long-term commitments from the international com- mostly been diesel- or petrol-driven generators and, in some
munity are needed, independent of political election cycles.
cases, small hydro turbines. major problems include high
another important issue is the involvement of the commu- maintenance costs and volatile fossil fuel prices. decennity and the local private sector. To illustrate, recent experience tralized schemes with diesel generators have often led to
with a rural electrification project in the country of georgia relatively expensive electricity supply systems. contemshowed that each Us$1 provided by a donor country leveraged porary renewable energy technologies can offer enhanced
32

ieee power & energy magazine

july/august 2014



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - 1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - July/August 2014 - Cover4
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