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Virtue or vice? Solar micro-grids and the dualistic nature of low-carbon energy transitions in rural Ghana

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  • Jude T. Nuru, Antioch University New England
  • ,
  • Jason L. Rhoades, Antioch University New England
  • ,
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool

Low-carbon energy transitions scholarship has witnessed an exponential rise since the beginning of the millennium. Many studies have explored the different pathways to achieving global carbon neutrality in the next few decades. Greater efforts have been focused on how poorer regions could be supported to achieve universal access to clean and affordable energy by 2030. However, little research has investigated the dualistic nature of low-carbon energy transitions vis-à-vis inherent contextual factors which could promote or hamper full realization of a broad array of benefits associated with sustainable energy projects in developing countries. Drawing upon interviews of experts and key informants, focus group discussion involving different groups of rural people in Ghana, alongside direct observation, we investigated the virtues and vices of solar micro-grid deployment in Ghanaian rural islands. Results of case studies from three rural islands show gradations of valuable outcomes from gender equity and social transformation to undesirable impacts of dispossession and conflicts. While the solar micro-grids engendered streams of benefits for the local people, the projects also exacerbated existing contextual issues and triggered novel challenges. These results may guide policy makers, practitioners, researchers, donors, and development partners to pay attention to these subtle issues in their efforts to promote low-carbon energy technologies in the developing countries.

TidsskriftEnergy Research and Social Science
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2022

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