Katrin Lammers, TU Berlin in Kooperation mit dem Reiner Lemoine Institut

Southeast Asia is one of the regions most affected by climate change. Unusual natural disasters such as flooding or droughts in combination with uncertainties in seasonality due to changing weather conditions in recent years underline this fact dramatically and show the urgency to build up climate resilience of the region’s most vulnerable areas. This is especially true for remote communities, mainly located on the numerous small islands.

The local livelihoods depend on small scale farming and fishing. Often communities face multiple extreme events within the same year eroding their coping mechanisms and their ability to anticipate. It gets harder and harder to afford living as fishing grounds disappear or relocate. This puts a strong burden on the least developed islands or communities in Southeast Asia.

In addition, they face the problem of limited, expensive and unreliable supply of electricity. This supply is basic, if existent. The access to electricity of the island communities is mostly restricted to intermittent, unreliable, expensive and environmentally harmful diesel power generation. The limited electricity access hampers social and economic development such as access to communication, improved healthcare and education opportunities. Creating alternative income structures and economic growth through productive use of electricity is therefore limited.

Renewable energy (RE) hybrid mini-grids are a promising solution to tackle these challenges. They come with the promise of increasing electricity supply hours and reliability of supply while decreasing cost per generated electricity unit and thus trigger local value creation.

The planned research thesis aims to analyze and develop integrated approaches for island and rural electrification in Southeast Asia applying Renewable Energy (RE) hybrid mini-grids covering socio-economic and techno-economic dimensions. Special emphasis and analysis is laid on the relation between sustainable electricity supply and building up climate resilience of island communities in Southeast Asia as they are especially exposed to the impacts of climate change.

The reserach will follow two steps: First the impacts of RE hybrid mini-grids and climate change on local livelihoods have to be analyzed and understood. Once the positive impacts of mini-grid implementation towards a higher resilience have been proven, tailor-made solutions can be suggested for the successful roll-out of mini-grid electrification projects to the benefit of the local communities.