Off-grid Rural Electrification and Fighting Poverty. A Comparative Impact Assessment of Solar Home Systems and Small Solar Home Systems in Rural Bangladesh

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Dokumentart: Report
Date: 2013
Source: Global Studies Working Papers of the Tübingen Institute of Geography ; 19
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Geographie, Geoökologie, Geowissenschaft
DDC Classifikation: 550 - Earth sciences
Keywords: Erneuerbare Energien , Elektrifizierung , Bangladesch , Armutsbekämpfung , Evaluation
Other Keywords:
Renewable Energies , Electrification , Bangladesh , Poverty Reduction , Impact Assessment
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As it is nowadays widely acknowledged that modern energy access plays an important role in promoting sustainable development and fighting poverty, the topic of (particularly rural) electrification has gained much attention among the international community throughout the last decade. One common approach for providing modern energy to rural areas is the dissemination of decentralised, small-scale photovoltaic systems – usually known as Solar Home Systems. This study evaluates how exactly Solar Home Systems (SHS) and the less expensive Small Solar Home Systems (SSHS) contribute to fighting poverty in rural Bangladesh. Based on the multidimensional poverty concept of the OECD, the impacts of these solar systems are analysed and compared by applying a quasi-experimental evaluation design. During the field research both quantitative and qualitative data was gathered through a combination of methodological tools including a household survey, qualitative appraisals of (non-)users and local stakeholders, as well as focus group discussions. The analysis of the different data sources indicates that both SHS and SSHS have positive impacts on most of the capability dimensions and thus indeed contribute to fighting poverty. However, they do not increase the economic capabilities of their users in the medium term and detrimental environmental effects due to inappropriate battery recycling are likely to occur in the near future. Women benefit more than men from some of the determined outcomes including the improved indoor air quality and the overall working conditions in the house. Yet, such gender-specific differences could not be found for all capability dimensions and with regard to certain outcomes, men are the main beneficiaries. Since many of the determined changes are essentially based on improved illumination conditions and the replacement of kerosene, the majority of impacts from SHS and SSHS are very similar. Yet, SSHS offer a higher poverty orientation and affect the economic capabilities less than the more costly SHS. In contrast to that, SHS have a more pronounced positive influence on the access to information, the recreational activities, and the general well-being of their users due to the possibility to use TVs as well as small fans. The evidence from this study strongly supports the envisaged introduction of PicoPV systems into the national dissemination scheme. Furthermore, although the overall set-up can be considered as a role model for other countries, measures have to be taken to mitigate the expected detrimental environmental effects from inappropriate battery recycling.

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