A coevolutionary perspective on decentralised electrification: a solar mini-grid project in India

Sharma Karnamadakala Rahul, Palit Debajit
International Journal of Sustainable Society, Vol12(3), DOI: 10.1504/IJSSOC.2020.109773

Decentralised mini-grids can support household electrification needs in remote rural communities in developing countries. Adopting a practice-oriented perspective to research, we describe our experience in implementing a decentralised solar mini-grid project in India over a period of three years. Focusing on processes, we demonstrate how technical design, organisational mandates and project contingencies coevolve with business strategies, user practices, local institutions and ecosystems. Recognising and facilitating coevolution between systems can have important causal impacts on project outcomes. In our case, the project deviates from the original blueprint towards a higher technical design value, service-based tariffs, and greater time and resource investment by the implementing agency. The coevolutionary perspective has been used previously as an analytical tool. We propose here that it can also serve as a practical how-to guide for micro-level projects by alerting implementers to the requirements of greater time, resources and community engagement.

Rural electrification
Electricity access
Solar mini-grids
Solar energy
Decentralised electricity systems
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