Demand for Local Renewable Energy Systems: Evidence from North and Middle Andamans

Published date01 June 2019
Date01 June 2019
Subject MatterArticles
Demand for Local
Renewable Energy
Systems: Evidence
from North and
Middle Andamans
Manashvi Kumar1
Energy has an innate anthropogenic (human) dimension. Human beings are central
to the theme of energy generation and its final consumption. Energy generation
and its distribution as a resource governs every aspect of human life on a daily
basis. This element necessitates critical understanding of demand aggregation
and profiling across socio-cultural systems. The requirement of energy in terms
of quantity and quality is emphatically embedded in the socio-cultural ethos of
an end-user, the socio-cultural setting of which one is a part. Understanding
this aspect is critical for scheduling the supply of energy. Policy issues related to
demand side management arise from lack of understanding of behavioural issues
of consumers. It stems from community alienation, in planning for generation,
transmission and distribution of power. Any techno-economic mega system for
power generation is embedded in local socio-cultural systems that comprise all
beneficiaries, close or remote. The rural energy landscape needs to be located in
different geo-climatic zones and physiographic (physical attributes of landforms
such as plateaus, plains, hills, valleys, deserts, islands, etc.) divisions. The study
provides an empirical approach for rural energy demand aggregation, drawn
from specific socio-cultural system in India.
Renewable resource assessment, demand side management, evidence-based
policy, rural energy landscape
Indian Journal of Public
65(2) 346–376, 2019
© 2019 IIPA
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0019556119840908
1 Special Secretary (Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation), Director (Disaster Management) and CVO
(Department of Revenue), Government of Punjab, Punjab, India.
Corresponding author:
Manashvi Kumar, Special Secretary (Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation), Director (Disaster Managemen t)
and CVO (Department of Revenue), Government of Punjab, Punjab, India.
Kumar 347
Theoretical Framework
This article tries to respond in part to a central question in an ongoing doctoral
research. The arguments raised in this article are related to the central argument of
understanding the concrete and complete context of a given policy design.
Commissioning of alternate energy systems to sustain human life should be
supported by strong deterministic anthropomorphic considerations along with the
locale-specific social elements. In the recent times, economic growth and power
consumption have evolved their own non-linear trajectories which may never
converge, as the thrust is not always guided by the imperative need for actual
demand study and its local assessment. This linear-cum-unilateral trajectory may
produce generation surplus along with creation of visible infrastructure, but that
may not create nascent demand. Altering the manner in which energy is generated
and consumed without a comprehensive assessment of the actual need shall even-
tually lead to the creation of an energy system design without any form of social
extension. A situation that impels unending and insatiable human quest for
nature’s most fundamental resource may not be a desirable outcome in the long
run. Often, the designs of the dominant techno-economic ideology may unleash
dystopia in these socio-technical and micro-cultural landscapes. These systems
could be referred to as asymmetric autochothonous techno-artefacts that are
largely undesirable for want of greater and closer synchronisation with the local
attributes. Over the centuries, mega energy system designs have assumed many
forms, but for most of those times, the alterations and even damage that they
produced were seldom linked directly to the growth of energy demand. We are
extremely self-deprecating at making the linkages between understanding need
for energy and the landscape consequences that could eventually result. These
costs are usually given the innocuous label of unavoidable ‘collateral damage’.
They are normally and conveniently seen as avoidable environmental costs in this
otherwise ecologically extremely fragile virgin territory, given the presence of
rich endemic flora and fauna as compared to scattered human presence. The
current rural energy landscape and its virgin rural ecosystem is benign in terms of
its simple, non-energy intensive life style. It has marked individual existence in
terms of its remoteness, far from population centres, and is characterised by low
load densities. These micro rural energy ecosystems comprising aboriginals and
settlers are evolutionary co-constructions of space and society that came into
existence through a series of cultural, material and social relations. They are pri-
mordial and still evolving. They were out of sight and out of mind, as one did not
recognise or made any conscious effort to take into account the common thread of
their origin or take such possible measures that could help mitigate the consequ-
ences of their presence. Nevertheless, with an increasing ubiquity of disruptive
technological choices, there is a rising interest in terms of guided attention on
them as a unified topic by interests that are self-aggrandising and self-absorbed.
The plural, heterogeneous appearance and contextual location of rural, remote,
energy landscapes should ideally incite wide swings of change of perceptions,
evoke responses and reactions, even when created by a single technology or any
combination of technologies meant for geographically remote, socially alienated,

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