“Let there be Light”… but what comes next? Changing energy needs and the ability of decentralised solar energy to provide sustainable solutions to urban slum communities in Bangalore, India.
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Despite the centrality of energy to modern life and human development, access to clean energy is by no means universal and there are approximately 1.4 billion people globally, who remain without access to electricity. The growing realisation that energy-related activities constitute the most significant anthropogenic threat to the global climate is used as a central argument for the application of sustainable solutions to the problem of energy poverty. Decentralised sustainable energy production; such as the application of solar PV technology is often presented as a win-win strategy by which to tackle the dual problems of energy poverty and climate change in developing countries such as India. Yet there remains limited research on the social implications of this technology provision. This thesis constitutes an exploration of the social dimension of sustainable development, and an analysis of the social consequences of projects that use a market-based model of solar PV technology distribution to tackle energy poverty in urban spaces in India. A case study of Pollinate Energy in Bangalore is used to explore the effects of solar light distribution on the varied and changing energy needs of poor communities. The emerging narratives of this empirical research present some personal accounts of solar PV technology use and impact, whilst highlighting an array of changing needs. It is argued that the emergence of desires for further technology within the urban slums could signal a new paradigm of decentralised energy provision; one which is in need of further research if communities are able to gain the power to define and receive energy services that are capable of improving their quality of life.
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