Evaluating the Use of Renewable Energy and Communal Governance Systems for Climate Change Adaptation

Debora Ley, H J Corsair, Sabine Fuss,  Chandni Singh | 2020


Aim: Renewable energy (RE) systems can be effective tools for rural communities for meeting goals for development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. RE systems provide small amounts of electricity fostering community development through improved energy access, livelihood opportunities, and improved quality of life. Communities in rural Guatemala are increasingly vulnerable to climate change impacts, due to increasingly extreme weather events. Distributed RE systems can be more effective than connection to national electric grids in providing power if community members have the agency and skill (technical and in governance) to maintain them. The goal was to evaluate the performance of RE systems used in a rural Guatemalan community and the governance system created around it.

Design/Research methods:The specific RE systems were evaluated eight years ago; they had performed well especially after Hurricane Stan. Recommendations were made for further performance improvement. This study evaluates the subsequent performance given more intense rains, and the current state of related community governance on the basis of semi-structured interviews.

Conclusions/findings:This research highlights the need for enhanced and continuous monitoring and evaluation methods for both energy projects and their supporting institutional structures. Accountability, mediation mechanisms and transparency tools within these institutions can allow more open communication and equitable treatment with agents of power.

Originality/value of the article:The article provides original insights for project implementation and policy information. Strong trust bonds are necessary for community resilience in emergencies, and in the well-being and development of the community, independent of energy sources.