Participatory Sustainable Energy Planning in Sudan Case Study: The Photo Voltaic Systems Project

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Suad ElSadig, Badri
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The United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development on its ninth session (UNCSD-9) invited governments, as well as relevant regional and international organizations and other relevant stakeholders to consider the issues and options relating to energy for Sustainable Development (SD), taking into account national and regional specificities and circumstances, bearing in mind the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities. The ninth session decided that policies relating to Sustainable Energy Development (SED) must address many of the economic and social development issues as well as facilitate the responsible management of environmental resources. This framework for SED requires integrated planning, recognising interconnections between systems operating at different levels of scale. It offers an unparalleled opportunity for improving energy planning, whilst moving towards a sustainable future, as an endeavour that can facilitate work across levels of scale, enhance dialogue, and improve perception. This thesis examined the emerging role of active participation in 'planning for sustainability' in the context of energy planning in Sudan. It explored the value of integrating participatory planning and education for sustainability. The Energy Sustainability Accelerator (ESA), an informed protocol for energy participatory planning was developed by the researcher and tested within the research process. The research process tested ESA as a mechanism for engaging stakeholder participation in energy planning, informing sustainability; socio-economic and environmental benefits of SED. The ESA process involves provision of leadership skills, technical support, and planning and design expertise to guide the participants and ensure that they are fully informed of all relevant energy sustainability ground-rules, including planning considerations, constraints, and potential options. A Delphi survey in the initial stage of the research process was set up to specify appropriate methods for energy participatory planning in Sudan to promote SED. At the second phase of the research process a methodological framework was developed to conform to the Delphi recommendations. In addition the institutional/policy component of the PV Project (The UNDP project "Barrier Removal to Secure Photo-Voltaic Market Penetration in Semi-Urban Sudan") was selected as a case study for the research process. The case study helped refining the theoretical framework of the research, providing deeper insight into the inherent and embedded problems of engaging wide range public participation in energy planning. The third cycle setup was also based on the Delphi recommendations. The process adopted creative involvement of stakeholders in energy planning within a framework that brings experts together with other stakeholders. The basic approach included stakeholders' feedback in energy planning. The major participants were a mixture of selected energy stakeholders and some members of the National Assembly. They were invited to participate in the stages of creating a long-term vision of sustainability in energy planning in Sudan. This process was carried out at two levels of scale, these are:- • The decision-making level • The stakeholders level, The research tested ESA at both levels, using an action-based, interpretive methodology. Challenges posed by SED were identified, and specific criteria were developed for assessing the participatory planning approach. Interviews with key decision makers in the energy sector in Sudan were used within the research methodology and the findings were further processed. Interviews were conducted with participants before and after the process, providing data about changes in understanding resulting from their experience. This research had two major outcomes: a contribution to theory through an in-depth exploration of the theoretical basis of informed participatory approach, as exemplified by ESA; and a contribution to practice through investigating its potential to meet key challenges of SED. This research points to the importance of understanding participatory planning as a societal process, aiming to make the process engaging and meaningful. It demonstrated the benefits of an iterative process in which planning at one level of scale informs, and is informed by, work at the other level. It has shown that an approach consistent with action research can contribute to the development of more integrated and sound solutions
Photo Voltaic Systems Project, Sudan, Energy Planning