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Lessons from last mile electrification in Colombia: Examining the policy framework and outcomes for sustainability

Garces, E; Tomei, J; Franco, CJ; Dyner, I; (2021) Lessons from last mile electrification in Colombia: Examining the policy framework and outcomes for sustainability. Energy Research & Social Science , 79 , Article 102156. 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102156. Green open access

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Abstract

More than a decade ago, Colombia reached a 95% electrification rate. Despite efforts from multiple actors, including government, private sector companies, communities and donors, this rate has only barely improved. In 2020, around 1.9 million Colombians – all residing in rural areas – lacked access to electricity. The electrification challenge is compounded by the geographical isolation of these last mile communities, which makes interconnection to the national electricity grid infeasible. Even where off-grid communities do have access to electricity, supply is often limited to less than six hours per day raising questions about the adequacy of provision. This paper investigates last mile electrification in Colombia, specifically examining the policy framework and the outcomes for the sustainability of last mile projects. Drawing on document analysis, expert interviews and case studies, this paper finds that the government has created an overly complex policy environment which hinders rather than facilitates electrification efforts. It also continues prioritizing the use of diesel generators through costly supply-side subsidies, resulting in high operating costs and inadequate service. More recently, although renewable sources have shown good outcomes, for instance in the case studies examined here, these experiences have not been extensible disseminated. Finally, this paper argues that changes are required to the institutional framework to deliver electricity to last mile communities in Colombia. Specifically, if the multidimensional benefits of electricity are to be realized, changes will need to include improvements in public infrastructure to promoting intersectoral work that promotes socio-economic development of last mile communities and beyond.

Type: Article
Title: Lessons from last mile electrification in Colombia: Examining the policy framework and outcomes for sustainability
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2021.102156
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2021.102156
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Last mile energy access, Off-grid electrification, Hybrid microgrids, Sustainability, Colombia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130583
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