The challenges of community-based solar energy interventions: Lessons from two Rwandan Refugee Camps

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Abstract

The paper presents evidence from the performance assessment of two solar energy interventions. Specifically, an evidence base was built around two community co-conceived standalone photovoltaic-battery systems, which were deployed in two refugee camps in Rwanda. We found that for both installations (a micro-grid and a community hall electrification system) energy consumption levels were low, showing that sizeable energy consumption gaps can still develop when co-conceived interventions are deployed. The consumption gap led to low performance ratios (33% and 25% respectively for the micro-grid and community hall system). To guide further work and improve the sustainability of community interventions, we draw a number of design principles for future energy interventions in similar contexts. To deliver sustainable energy transitions for refugees, there needs to be a move towards co-creating community interventions that promote self-governance to position communities as users, maintainers and suppliers of energy services, throughout an intervention's lifetime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-184
Number of pages10
JournalEnergy for Sustainable Development
Volume65
Early online date5 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council ( EPSRC ) for funding the Humanitarian Engineering and Energy for Displacement (HEED) project as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund ( EP/P029531/1 ). The authors would like to acknowledge and thank project delivery partners Practical Action and Scene Connect for their significant role in co-ordinating in-camp activities and providing technical inputs and tools. We would also like to recognise the support of MIDIMAR (Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the contributions of the Global Plan of Action, Chatham House, and the RE4R (Renewable Energy for Refugees) Project (a partnership between Practical Action and UNHCR, supported by the IKEA Foundation).

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) for funding the Humanitarian Engineering and Energy for Displacement (HEED) project as part of the Global Challenges Research Fund (EP/P029531/1). The authors would like to acknowledge and thank project delivery partners Practical Action and Scene Connect for their significant role in co-ordinating in-camp activities and providing technical inputs and tools. We would also like to recognise the support of MIDIMAR (Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees) and UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and the contributions of the Global Plan of Action, Chatham House, and the RE4R (Renewable Energy for Refugees) Project (a partnership between Practical Action and UNHCR, supported by the IKEA Foundation).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

Funder

Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) Global Challenges Research Fund Grant (EP/P029531/1).

Keywords

  • Decentralized
  • Humanitarian
  • Micro-grid
  • Monitoring
  • Off-grid
  • Photovoltaic (PV)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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