In Pursuit of Sustainability : Decentralized Renewable Energy Services in India

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Industriell teknik

Abstract: Based on the grand challenges of transforming the energy sector towards sustainability and harvesting the potential from decentralized solar PV, a holistic and systemic perspective is required. This study presents the case of decentralized renewable solutions in Karnataka India. The diffusion of solar home lighting systems has an environmentally, socially and financially positive impact. This study applies the interdisciplinary framework of Technological Innovation Systems (TIS) to explain the structural elements and system dynamics that create the enabling conditions for this diffusion. Five key mechanisms that induces the systems overall performance are identified: (1) A need-based approach that allows for the customization of solutions to the need of the customer; (2) The utilization of local knowledge and authority through local champions; (3) Relentless efforts to build and maintain the personal relations with the customers, partners and employees; (4) Having a strong network with high trust and wellestablished channels for communication enables the diffusion of learnings and innovations in the ecosystem; and (5) Work to build partnerships that is reinforced through a social mission to serve the underserved, which forms strong connections and increases the motivation among partners and employees. Key blocking mechanisms for an increased diffusion of solar home lighting systems are: Vague national and regional policies, damaged reputation for solar technologies through substandard solar products and installations, and decreased engagement from banks. The identification of both the inducing and blocking mechanisms has proved the value of examining system dynamics. Evaluating sustainability in the methods to diffuse sustainable technologies, and not only the technology itself, is an interesting insight from this study. These findings resonate with previous research calling for an expansion of the TIS framework to better explain system building and resource management activities.

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