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Why Renewable is Not Always Sustainable? Challenges relating to donor-driven RE projects Hanna Kaisti Finland Futures Research Center Conference on Development,

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Presentation on theme: "Why Renewable is Not Always Sustainable? Challenges relating to donor-driven RE projects Hanna Kaisti Finland Futures Research Center Conference on Development,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Renewable is Not Always Sustainable? Challenges relating to donor-driven RE projects Hanna Kaisti Finland Futures Research Center Conference on Development, Justice and Governance, in Helsinki April, 2008

2 Research interest Why donor-driven RE projects often fail to provide long-term energy services that are environmentally and socially sustainable economically and technically viable after the project ends?

3 Material Interviews in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos RE project visits:  Biogas (Cambodia and Laos)  Wood gasification (Cambodia)  Improved cooking stoves (Cambodia)  Sustainable charcoal (Cambodia)  Solar home system (Laos) Previous reseach

4 Renewable and sustainable Renewable – energy flows which are replenished at the same rate as they are used E.g. solar energy, biomass, hydro, wind.. Sustainable energy – renewable but also social and economic considerations

5 Shifts in donor argumentation Productive uses of energy and direct impact on economic growth Energy as a cross-cutting theme contributing of all MDGs: Basic services like lighting, cooking, refridgeration, communication, transport.. But also education, health, gender equality… Climate change

6 Increasing interest in RE -> MDGs & climate change has increased donors’ interest to fund RE projects Other reasons; Energy demand increasing Increasing oil prices High investment costs & long-term impact Decline in the costs of RE technology Technology more efficient & reliable

7 Power over power -> Donors may have significant power on the way in which energy structure is organized in the aid-dependent countries Loans & grants Technical assistance Defining governance Defining priorities Training …

8 Energy project failure? Total failure: ending of energy service due to technical, maintenance or financial reasons Relative failure: does not provide significant energy services, has only small climate impacts -> High expenses, small results: money could have been used better to alleviate poverty and mitigate climate change in the same site

9 Reasons for failure Technical problems, unreliability Technology-driven projects Focus on output instead of outcome RE projects often do not alleviate poverty unless they combined with other projects Electricity does not turn into education or gender equity

10 Insufficient long-term planning: what are the needs, preferences, resources and capacity of the end-users to finance and maintain the service Wrong scale – too small or too big Vulnerable Difficult to adapt for the growing needs

11 Not enough energy for productive uses or the energy supply is unreliable E.g. constant power cuts or failures to produce electricity at all Benefits those who already better-off

12 A successful project ( at least) Demand- rather than technology -driven Links technical and financial considerations with social aspects (outcome rather than output) Has inclusive and participatory planning process Understands the power issues that relate to the power issues: inclusion of marginal groups & women

13 Long-term approach: maintenance & financing considerations -> capacity-building needed Combination with other projects? Public service approach to energy

14 Conclusions Changes in donor arguments due to MDGs and climate change -> energy seen a cross-cutting issue in poverty alleviation -> more emphasis on RE especially in rural electrification But renewable not necessarily sustainable

15 RE projects still technology –driven, superficial participatory elements Projects have a variety of impacts, positive and negative, on different stakeholder groups May not benefit marginal groups, or e.g. women – understanding of power relations needed May not in every situation be the best way to alleviate poverty or mitigate climate change – the arguments mostly used in donor-driven projects May end with only short term benefits without long-term planning on maintenance & finance

16 Thank you!


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