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Viability of renewable energy systems for island communities in developing countries

Norimarna, Marthinus Karel Jacob 1993 , 'Viability of renewable energy systems for island communities in developing countries', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis addresses the hypothesis that a well managed renewable energy system (RES) would be a viable alternative, or supplement, to existing energy systems for island communities of developing countries.
The study includes an analysis of the physical and social characteristics of island communities and their environments, the critical energy problems, and analysis of the principles, implications and other aspects of RES. At this stage, only photovoltaic- and biomass-systems are considered technologically proven for the conditions of islands of developing countries.

The study also develops a strategy of implementation for RES which could be pursued. It is based on a philosophy for development, widely accepted by the islanders of developing countries, which has been identified in this study. This philosophy is based on their indigenous values: love, collective spirit, harmonious relationship among God-Men-Nature, etc., and on "good" western values (such as efficiency, achievement, and rationality) required in a development process, especially in circumstances of limited resources.

The strategy of implementation has three basic elements: a community focus, ecological soundness, and a holistic approach. These are linked to the viability requirements, which include socio-cultural, technological, economic, and environmental issues, using a systems approach. This need to examine the problem of RES in developing island communities from both the scientific and humanities perspectives is a common environmental studies approach, and is the key component of this thesis.

A case study of the island of Ambon in Indonesia demonstrates how the implementation of RES on an island of a developing country might eventually proceed, and what the implications might be.

The following conclusions were drawn:

1. It is difficult, at least at present and in the near future, to accept the original hypothesis, for the following reasons:
a. More real experience is required to come to the conclusion that RES can really be relied upon as a viable alternative energy system, especially to support the development process, because RES is seen as too expensive and might prove environmentally unfriendly if islands of developing countries experiment with them.
b. The conditions - economically, technologically, socially, environmentally, culturally, as well as politically - of island communities of developing countries are not favourable yet, to provide the conducive environment, in which this kind of technology can be implemented and developed.
c. The high financial costs and dependency on foreign technology of RES, will increase the already strong dependent character of island countries on foreign aid. Also, the desires of the islanders to be more independent and to preserve their own culture, make this implementation, if pursued, a high political cost investment.

2. However, RES is still a potential technology in providing energy, which is one of the basic, vital, and strategic needs of mankind. For island countries RES may, in the future, be an important means to make their independence more meaningful.

3. Preparational steps for the implementation of RES should therefore be undertaken, especially in the area of education, R & D, institutional building, and regional cooperation, along with improvements in the efficiency of existing energy systems.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Norimarna, Marthinus Karel Jacob
Keywords: Renewable energy sources
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Copyright 1989 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1993. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 292-308)

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