Rural electrification efforts based on off-grid photovoltaic systems in the Andean Region: Comparative assessment of their sustainability

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In this paper, we comparatively assess the sustainability of rural electrification efforts based on off-grid solutions in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru. Our assessment considers four dimensions of sustainability (institutional, economic, environmental, and socio-cultural). We found that Ecuador and Chile have consistently failed to ensure mechanisms for the operation and maintenance of the deployed off-grid systems, which has made these solutions in poor Chilean and Ecuadorian communities inevitably unsustainable. Although Peru has adopted a cross-tariffscheme, the Peruvian case shows that ensuring the funding of off-grid PV solutions is not enough. Peruvian officials appear to be unaware of the importance of local participation (local values and lifestyles are constantly disregarded) and most of the projects have been designed without the participation and engagement of the communities, which has often led to project failures and payment defaults. However, although each country has its particular challenges, we found that the three Andean countries have consistently neglected the importance of strong formal institutions with a flexible and decentralized structure, which in turn significantly compromised the rural electrification effort in these countries.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1825
Issue number10
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 11.10.2017

    Research areas

  • Andean countries, Developing countries, Off-grid PV systems, Rural electrification, Sustainable energy
  • Sustainability Science