Decentralized Energy Supply
Energy supply – a poverty-related basic needs service
Access to electricity constitutes the basis for a minimum standard of living. It is fundamental to social and economic development and plays a vital role in improving equal gender opportunities. It also enables the deprived to improve their quality of life. Basic electricity supply for household and handicraft is thus a key component of poverty-oriented basic needs services.
Particularly in remote mountainous areas (such as the Himalayas Region) people often live under extreme conditions. The harsh climate in high-altitudes, limited available natural resources and the remote location of most villages make life challenging.
The subsistence agriculture is primarily aimed at surviving the long winter periods. The highly limited existing income sources hinder the poor population’s access to basic services such as electricity supply, and restrict adequate participation in “normal” economic life.
Due to the remoteness of most villages, the majority of settlements are not connected to a central power grid. The lack of economic opportunities leads to large scale migration.
Conventional local and governmental energy supply concepts often fail to reach the population in remote areas. BORDA seeks to bridge this deficiency by
- generating electric power with utilization of local energy sources (mountain rivers and streams)
- implementing demand-based service provider concepts to demonstrate decentralized energy supply
- disseminating this approach in cooperation with various stakeholders
The aim of BORDA energy supply projects is to provide access to electricity for all households within a project village (e.g. for evening lighting). This changes the investment cost-benefit analysis for local SMEs. The willingness of the target group to actively participate in the project realisation is essential for the sustainability of these measures and is a precondition for project implementation.
Even though the people developed strategies for survival, the long and cold winters are always extremely challenging. Energy for heating and light is scarce.
Limitations of centralized energy supply systems
Local and state governments in developing countries show little effort in supplying remote rural areas with electricity. This is mainly due to the difficulty in connecting these areas with a centralized power grid. Therefore, centrally operated and government-run systems are often limited to the larger urban areas.
Conventional diesel generators represent a problematic solution for rural electricity supply:
- high costs for operation
- high breakdown rates
- expensive maintenance
- private providers often do not guarantee energy supply for all the households in a given village
- not environmentally friendly
Efforts to provide an electricity supply to remote mountainous villages using diesel generators face numerous challenges, as the necessary supply chain activities in these locations incurs costs and risks that are too high for most users to bear.