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Efficiency and effectiveness : exploring the goals of technology-diverse universal electrification strategies Menghwani, Vikas


More than 2 billion people have come within the expanding reach of electricity access in the last two decades. Still, globally ~840 million people lack access to any form of electricity. As per SDG7 timeline, universal electrification should happen by 2030. From the point of view of strategies, the pursuit of universal electrification has two types of goals. One relates to efficiency. This could be economic or environmental efficiency - i.e. electrifying the largest population at the lowest cost or with lowest environmental burden. And the other relates to effectiveness – which mainly constitutes the social and developmental goals of electricity provision being sufficient, reliable, affordable and equitable. In this dissertation, I examine the challenges to these goals. Using modeling-based approaches on an example country (Tanzania), I first analyze one particular impediment to economic efficiency: grid-dominance in the electrification market and its impact on strategic investment decisions by off-grid developers. As far as effectiveness is concerned, I address one particular challenge: distributive concerns around electricity pricing. Such effectiveness concerns fall under the broader societal goals of justice and fairness. Key outcomes of this work include novel methodologies for incorporating non-technological factors into electrification modeling. In doing so, my research takes the techno-economic model beyond the least-cost metrics. Modeling results show that (for Tanzania) uncertainty around grid arrival risks large scale misallocation of potential off-grid investments and may leave a large segment of population without electricity. In order to achieve cost-efficiency as well as fair pricing – it appears that an affordability-based pricing produces a lower burden on grid connected customers than a constant price. Apart from the analytical part of my research, I also take a deep dive into understanding what justice could mean in the context of electrification – and show how electrification may face multiple moral trade-offs. Supplementary materials available at: http://hdl.handle.net/2429/78214

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