Sustainability and design assessment of rural hybrid microgrids in Venezuela
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Nowadays, 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity, mainly in rural areas of developing countries. In particular, 22 million people do not have electricity in Latin America and many governments are developing rural electrification programs to deal with this situation. Off-grid hybrid microgrids based on renewable energy are an efficient option for providing dispersed rural populations with access to electricity. However, microgrids are still a minority option, as governments of developing countries generally consider them expensive and not effective. In this context, the evaluation of projects based on hybrid microgrids is required in order to improve the knowledge about these technologies. In this paper, 13 microgrid projects in north-western Venezuela are presented and their environmental, technical, socioeconomic and institutional dimensions of sustainability are evaluated. For this purpose, an evaluation methodology based on some ad hoc criteria is developed, assessed by means of technical visits, semi-structured interviews and 106 surveys of technical operators and beneficiaries. The results show that microgrids can satisfy the energy needs of the population, while promoting technological change towards the use of more sustainable technologies. In addition, the key aspects for strengthening projects’ sustainability are highlighted.
CitationLópez González, A.; Domenech, B.; Ferrer-Martí, L. Sustainability and design assessment of rural hybrid microgrids in Venezuela. "Energy", 2018, vol. 159, núm. September 2018, p. 229-242.