Energy supply to the rural poor in developing countries is a complex activity that transcends the simple selection of a best technology. This paper explains the outcomes achieved by using a new multi-criteria decision-support system to assist in calculating the most appropriate set of energy options for providing sufficient power to fulfil local demands that improve livelihoods. The elicitation of the priorities of future users, which are subsequently integrated into the energy selection process, is seen as a mechanism for the promotion of energy policies that ensure that technological developments reduce poverty. The sustainable rural energy decision support system (SURE DSS), a methodological package and software designed by the research team RESURL builds upon technical and non-technical features of energy development in remote poor areas, drawing on a sustainable livelihoods approach as part of its rationale. SURE enables simulations and calculation of the disparities that may arise between current and potential livelihoods after specific energy solutions have been installed, as well as measuring potential trade-offs among alternative livelihoods. The paper reports the outcome of an application of SURE to the case of a remote Colombian rural community whose total energy demands are only partly met through a diesel generator.
Energy Policy (2007) 35 (3) 1493-1504 [doi:10.1016/j.enpol.2006.03.026]