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Assessing the impact of renewable energy on local development and the Sustainable Development Goals: Insights from a small Philippine island (Bertheau 2020)

Paul Bertheau

Published in: Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Vol. 153, April 2020, 119919.

Abstract — Access to sustainable energy is crucial for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. A particular challenge for countries like the Philippines, is to provide sustainable energy on its far-flung islands. Renewable energy technologies hold substantial potential for improving sustainability and reliability while decreasing costs. We present a socio-economic impact survey for a case study island: Cobrador represents a typical small Philippine island with a population of approximately 1,000. The implementation of solar power and batteries led to increased service hours, affordability and environmental soundness. We applied a household questionnaire focusing on electricity usage patterns and targeted 170 randomly selected households representing 70% of the population. Our data show a clear positive impact of the intervention on access to education, information, health services, and perceived safety, whereas we found a weaker impact on income generation. Overall, we reveal a beneficial impact on different aspects of the household's daily routine. However, we also identify significant differences in the electricity usage pattern of below-average and above-average income households, specifically with the latter more frequently using electricity for income generation. Future sustainable energy interventions need to be aligned with programs incentivizing poor household's electricity use for enabling all households to equally profit from sustainable energy.

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