Solar Energy and Rural Development - an exploration into end-users' impact evaluation. A field study conducted in the solar energy village Rema, Ethiopia

Masterthesis Postgraduate Programme Renewable Energy, Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany, 2012

The current thesis addresses the question, in which way solar energy impacts on rural development in off-grid areas. For this a field study was conducted in the village Rema in Amhara region, Ethiopia, which utilizes solar home systems for lighting, phone charging, radio, TV and fridges. An answering approach towards the question was developed with the special focus on obtaining end-user defined impacts from solar use. According to the Indian economist Amartya Kumar Sen, development can be defined as increasing people's choices in life, referred to as capabilities. The capabilities have to be defined by the people themselves, in order to make them agents of their own lifes. Therefore, a survey using qualitative methods was conducted in Rema, asking for the impacts experienced by the end users. The people surveyed in the current thesis are using SHS, which provide the func-tionings: light and phone charger, sometimes radio and or tape, TV or fridge. During the mainly qualitative survey, the users reported the achieved capabilities: economical improvements, health, education, self-determined time use, changes in gender relations, social interaction, information, communication, entertainment, security, well-being and changes in their state-of-mind. The capabilities were divided into basic choices (long and healthy life, decent living standard, knowledge) and choices exceeding those related to basic needs (time-use, gender relation, social interaction, communication, entertainment, well-being and state-of-mind). The motivation of the thesis was to provide ideas for evaluating the success of SHS programs not just by the number of traditional fuel sources substituted and also not from top-down perspective. This was achieved by taking Sen's approach as a basis and exploring end user views. The result can be used to develop evaluation questionnaires.