The Promise of Renewable Energy Microgrids for Rural Latin America


Introduction and Summary of Findings

Since the adoprion of the utility business model in the early 20th century, governments have relied on extending their national transmission grids to supply electricity to remote populations. Many countries in Latin America have followed this model. In the few cases where grids were not extended, electrification has been achieved by installing local diesel generation. Yet, both grid wxpansion and diesel generation have significant drawbacks: transmission and distribution lines in remote areas can be unreliable; logistics for diesel can be extremely compicated, leading to fuel shortages; and both methods can be very expensive. Both approaches can also cause serious environmental damage: diesel generation emits significant quantities of carbon dioxide and criteria air pollutant emissions, and grid expansion often requires constructing transmission an distribution lines through environmentally sensitive areas.

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