Despite the importance of access to reliable energy sources for development, large numbers of rural communities in South Asia (Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal) have no access to electricity grids or reliable, clean cooking energies. Renewable energy can provide electricity and clean cooking energies to these rural communities because of its decentralized nature, but widespread use of Decentralized Renewable Energy Systems (DRES) face barriers, which need to be understood for the success of these systems.
The aim of this thesis is two-fold:
1. To systematically review through qualitative content analysis, the barriers to DRES in South Asia outlined in peer-reviewed and grey literature;
2. To assess the practical value to practitioners of the available literature by performing a comparative analysis of both types of literatures
The content analysis has highlighted a wide-range of barriers (categorised into Institutional, Regulatory, Monetary, Social and Technological barriers) which despite categorisation are interdependent of one another, an interdependence which is rarely highlighted in the literature. Comparative analysis of the peer-reviewed and ‘grey’ literature showed substantial differences in the reported barriers to DRE systems, which is attributed to the grey literature involving stakeholders involved in the development of these systems.
This thesis concludes that the peer-reviewed literature on barriers to DRES does not take a holistic interdisciplinary approach to investigating barriers to DRES in rural South Asia, nor does it provide practical answers to practitioners working on the development of DRES projects.
A new concept called ‘sustainable rural energy access’ is suggested to represent the need for rural energy access which is sustainable both in its use of renewable and clean energy sources, and in its longevity through time. It is recommended that an interdisciplinary research agenda involving all stakeholders is pursued so the knowledge generated can contribute to achieving sustainable rural energy access.