Large-Scale Dissemination of Small-Scale Renewable Energy Technologies in Developing Countries

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 1:45 PM
Room: F202
Oral Presentation
Xavier LEMAIRE , Energy Institute, University College London, London, United Kingdom
Access to clean energy services is considered as a requisite for any development in rural places of developing countries. In remote places, decentralised renewable generation of electricity has been considered for a long time as a desirable alternative to rural electrification with the extension of the grid. A number of alternative technologies for cooking and heating have been designed and promoted by NGOs. But progress in the dissemination of these technologies has been slow. This paper will first examine some of the myths linked to rural access to energy and how they have been impeding the implementation of renewable energy projects.

The dissemination of small decentralised clean energy technologies in developing countries seems often analysed in the international development literature in terms of barriers to be overcome or institutional gaps to be filled. Considerable efforts have been put in subsidising clean energy technologies with most of the time limited impact, while other technologies like the mobile phone have spread in Africa quickly.

This paper will determine how a more dynamic approach could help to analyse the way actors interact and build relations around new technological products, so to understand how their dissemination could be accelerated. Technologies have their own life and need to produce a specific context to thrive (Latour, 1996). Markets are created by policies and institutions; a series of stable rules embedded in organizations or networks have to emerge to make them sustainable. Clean decentralised energy technologies are “new” in the sense they need a new environment to thrive compared to established centralised (and often polluting) technologies.

This paper will finally analyse how innovative business models, but also adapted institutions and regulatory frameworks for private public/partnerships are contributing to accelerate the diffusion at a large scale of technologies that can be now considered as mature.