Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rural Electrification Sustainable Projects

Once the concept of long-term sustainability  has been presented, it seems reasonable to make a brief introduction of the main principles that should be considered from early stages of project development  to make a rural electrification project sustainable.                                
Lack of coordination among stakeholders has been always a hurdle, not only in terms of International Development projects. The chart above describes the different relations among main actors involved in a rural electrification project. Attention must be paid to the fact that frequently more than one role falls on the same entity or group. For example, depending on the ownership structure implemented, the "user" and the "owner" may be the same, that is, the community itself. Also it is usual that the "operator" and the "maintenance contractor" coincide in the same company or group, when the operation model is based on ESCOs or the beneficiary community is the owner of the system and they are in charge of the O&M tasks (only recommended for small scale projects with previous training for the users)

Apart from this, other typical errors during project development phase are:
  •  Wrong identification of community needs (or lack thereof)
  •  Selection of technology not based on an exhaustive Life Cycle Cost analysis
  •  Not incorporate inputs from beneficiaries that may affect the decision-making (e.g. costumes,  organizational issues,  etc.)
As introduced before, a sustainable approach should address bot technical and institutional arrangements, including an operation model that guarantees the success of the post-project period. In this regard, this process would consist of four main phases:

  1. Preliminary assessment: Identification of needs, determination of energy requirements, LCC analysis to determine the least-cost option, system sizing and estimated budget. Organizational and cultural issues may be incorporated at this stage.
  2. Implementation plan: gather information (grid extension plans, local institutional and market capacity, etc.); refine energy requirements, costs and system design; definition of ownership structure, business operation model; financing; preparation of technical specifications and terms of reference for capacity building...
  3. Procurement and contract management: securing firm financing commitments; developing tender packages and viable strategy for equipment procurement; logistic arrangements; contracts management; guarantees and warranties; construction, commissioning and handover...
  4. Long-term operation: contracted or in-house maintenance? post-project operational financing, beneficiary contributions, elaboration of O&M plan and tracking...

The above topics will be developed soon in specific posts.

Sources:
IEC 62257-3 - Project development and management.

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