Towards equitable and inclusive energy systems for remote off-grid communities: A socio-technical assessment of solar power for village Helario in Tharparkar, Pakistan

Rihab Khalid, Stefano Landini, Gordhan Das Valasai, Faryal Khalid, Philip Sandwell

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Abstract

Universal access to clean electricity (SDG7) in remote areas of the rural South remains a key challenge for economic growth, and has particular implications for equitable, inclusive and sustainable development. In Pakistan, techno-economic constraints in grid expansion for last-mile users, combined with the country's high solar energy potential make off-grid solar energy generation a viable solution, provided its technological, social and economic implications are well-understood in terms of actual energy demands and designed for equitable distribution. This paper presents a socio-technical feasibility assessment for designing equitable and inclusive off-grid solar systems using the case-study of Helario village in Tharparkar, Pakistan, with a key focus on gender-specific benefits. A mixed-methods approach is used to conduct a baseline field assessment of existing energy sources, community needs, women's access and energy use, affordability, future energy aspirations and social acceptability of renewable energy technologies. Results indicate gendered differences in mobility, education, everyday practices and income that have socio-economic implications, whereby women can benefit more from electrification, particularly when electricity is interlinked with access to clean water. Results are used to model, simulate and optimise a solar-battery mini-grid system for tiered and equitable energy access using CLOVER. Analysis shows that a system designed with a 10-year lifetime provides the lowest levelised cost of electricity and minimum emissions intensity, emphasising the need for long-term energy system planning. This paper serves as a demonstration for policymakers, project developers and rural communities for designing more equitable and inclusive energy systems with clear gendered implications for sustainable future access.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100067
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Transition
Volume4
Early online date20 Sep 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Energy modelling
  • Energy systems
  • Gender equity
  • Global south
  • Rural electrification
  • Socio-technical analysis
  • Solar photovoltaic

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