Transition towards renewable energy production? Potential in smallholder agricultural systems in West Bengal, India

Bastian Winkler, Iris Lewandowski, Voss Angelika, Stefanie Lemke

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    Abstract

    Renewable energy (RE) production promotes the efficient and sustainable utilization
    of natural resources at the local level. This study assessed smallholder farmers’ perceptions of RE production in two villages in West Bengal, India. The availability and potential of renewable resources and livelihood characteristics of smallholders were explored. Relevant factors for the selection of appropriate RE technologies were identified, based on the participatory, bottom-up Integrated Renewable Energy Potential Assessment. The research area has abundant solar resources and substantial amounts of organic residues and waste suitable for biodigestion. Important factors
    for RE technology selection, as stated by farmers, are: ease of daily activities, government support, and limited land requirements. Solar-photovoltaic (PV) systems providing sufficient electricity for household use and irrigation are considered the most appropriate. Key informants focus on initial investment costs, government support, and reduced energy expenditure. They favor solar-PV systems for household electrification. Second choice was an integrated food and energy system that combines solar-PV for irrigation and vermicomposting of organic residues/wastes for fertilizer
    production. Smallholder famers’ motivation to produce and use RE is high. Their perspective should be integrated in the design of RE-supporting policies and related programs to utilize local natural resources effectively and promote the transition towards renewable energy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number801
    Number of pages24
    JournalSustainability
    Volume10
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2018

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

    Keywords

    • sustainable livelihoods
    • renewable resources
    • energy transition
    • appropriate technology

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