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Improving the energy system for a rural community in developing countries

Challenges and sustainable opportunities in using renewable energy resources in Ethiopia
PhD ceremony:Mr G.T. (Gudina) Tucho
When:December 22, 2016
Supervisor:prof. dr. H.C. (Henk) Moll
Co-supervisor:dr. ir. S. (Sanderine) Nonhebel
Where:Academy building RUG
Faculty:Science and Engineering

Most people in rural developing countries do not have access to modern energy services for cooking, lighting and powering small appliances. The majority of them depends on traditional use of biomass energy for cooking. Heavy reliance on traditional use of biomass energy imposes huge environmental and health consequences. A lot of efforts have been made to provide modern energy to alleviate the problems. However, most of these are not successful to achieve the desired objectives due to constraints related to technical capacity of the people to use the technology, to economic capacity to afford the costs and to cultural barriers to accept the technology.

This PhD project aims to investigate the availability of renewable energy resources and suitable technologies matching local demands and resources. Biomass and solar energy resources and technologies are emphasized and analyzed at both small and large scales. The results show that the available renewable energy potentials are huge; however, their electrical energy is only suitable to meet the lighting and small electric appliance demand. Biogas energy can be technically mature and suitable for the cooking demand, but about 80% of the households do not have sufficient bio-wastes to produce sufficient biogas for their demand. The available bio-wastes are promising to meet the cooking demand when considered at a village scale. However, its sustainability relies on the availability of resources close-by. Hence, biogas system integration can be a better option to achieve sustainable production at lower labor costs, which requires an enabling policy.