Design of decentralized energy systems for rural electrification in developing countries considering regional disparity

Diego Silva Herran, Toshihiko Nakata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Decentralized electrification using local resources can reduce regional disparity in rural and remote areas in terms of supply reliability and cost, as well as promote income generation. In this research an optimization energy model is introduced for designing decentralized energy systems using biomass for rural electrification in developing countries. Regional disparity is incorporated disaggregating electricity demand into urban, rural and remote areas. The model has been applied for designing a decentralized system using agricultural waste and forest biomass in a region in Colombia, South America. The resulting design includes biomass technologies in remote areas, reducing supply cost by 30% in this region. Using agricultural waste for electricity generation increases unit costs by 25% and reduces 15% of CO2 emissions compared to the current energy system. Using all biomass to meet current demand lowers the efficiency of the system, resulting in high system costs and emissions reduction. Reduction of disparity in electricity access among regions using local biomass needs to balance the increase in energy system costs and CO2 emissions reduction. For instance, using 30% of available biomass reduces 22% of system CO2 emissions, and provides 121USD/house/yr and 99 USD/house/yr of additional income in rural and remote areas, respectively. Design of the energy system considering regional disparity shows that fuel transportation costs and efficiencies of biomass conversion technologies have significant impact on system configuration and performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-145
Number of pages16
JournalApplied Energy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar


  • Decentralized energy system
  • Developing countries
  • Regional disparity
  • Rural electrification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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