Sustainable Power to the People

Anne Vestergaard Andersen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Renewable energy dissemination in developing countries is, by a wide range of international promoters, regarded as a potential enabler for several socioeconomic benefits that will contribute to achieving the UN Millennium Developmental Goals. Taking a sociotechnical approach to studying the arrival of a specific solar technology - the Solar Home System (SHS) - in rural Nicaragua, the thesis aims to question and destabilise these self-evident assumptions. Based on four months worth of fieldwork in Nicaragua, the thesis studies the outcomes and the factors that influence these related to the introduction of solar power to off-grid, rural households. It is found that the SHS plays a modest role in generating predefined socioeconomic activities. Rather, outcomes are socially conditioned; increased use of TV, radio and cell phone and illumination of social spaces, while consumption outcomes relate to SHS users mixing renewable and “dirty” energy sources. This challenges both the linear approach to technology implementation, as well as the linear energy transition hypothesis. Factors that influence these outcomes are identified in three sociotechnical processes a) the discrepancy between the ‘projected’ and the ‘real’, b) consumption and perception interdependencies, and c) the SHS’s link to social and emotional processes of felling connected to the outside world, hope for a “modern” future with electricity, and psychological empowerment, bringing a point of discussion of the linear approach to development through “modernisation”. Based on these findings, the paper demonstrates that in order to encourage socioeconomic development we need to understand and recognise the sociotechnical complexities of introducing renewable energy technologies to developing societies.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato14 jul. 2014


  • Solar Energy
  • Nicaragua
  • Renewable
  • Off-grid
  • Technology
  • Development
  • Society