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Decentralized renewable energy (DRE) projects have the potential to contribute to climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development objectives. DRE systems are considered for emissions reduction or poverty alleviation purposes while their role for climate change adaptation has hardly been analysed. In terms of adaptation, DRE provides electricity that can be used both to prepare for and recover from disasters, and to provide additional income and livelihood opportunities, thus reducing dependency on natural resources. For example, DRE can power early warning systems, telecommunication systems, health clinics and potable water systems. Although it might be said that climate change adaptation applications of DRE systems have already been implemented, the vulnerability of these systems towards climate impacts, and the robustness of these systems to climatic impacts are oftentimes not even considered.
The assessment of 15 community-owned renewable energy projects in Guatemala and Nicaragua show that, under certain conditions, renewable energy projects can simultaneously meet the triple objective of sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Research also points to specific drivers which can facilitate or hinder projects meeting their own stated objectives and, consequently, the triple objective, and their long-term functioning. These drivers include the specific background of the beneficiary community, the financing and implementing entities and the local governance structures in place.
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- Sustainable Development, Climate Change, and Renewable Energy in Rural Central America
- Chapter 11