Community-based Micro Grids: A common property resource problem

Working Paper
  • Published 31/07/14
  • ISBN: 978-1-78118-192-8

This paper introduces a new methodological and theoretical foundation for studying the reasons for successes and failures of community-based micro grids (CBMGs).

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While technical and financial factors involved are very critical they are comparatively well researched. This analysis argues that further research into, in particular, the institutional design of CBMGs is required in order to improve long-term sustainability. The paper suggests that the electricity in an isolated micro grid can be treated as a common property resource (CPR), which then opens up the established academic literature regarding collective action in the presence of CPRs. More specifically this paper analyses how the rich set of enabling conditions for collective action, which has been established in the context of traditional CPR situations such as water for irrigation or pasture for grazing, can be applied to the context of CBMGs. The goal is to arrive at workable recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners to inform the design and improve the long-term sustainability of CBMGs. Ultimately this has the potential to contribute towards efforts to bring modern energy services to significant parts of rural populations without electricity access.

About the Author
Lorenz Gollwitzer is currently researching institutional arrangements for community-based rural electrification in East Africa for his PhD at SPRU (Science Policy Research Unit) at the University of Sussex. His past research and work has focused on accelerating deployment of low-carbon technologies for rural electrification in developing countries as well as new financing mechanisms for resilient and sustainable infrastructure. He holds an MA in International Relations and Economics from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a BSc in Engineering and Business from Warwick University.