Rural electrification is attracting an increasing attention from policy makers and energy forums. This interest is reflected in a growing body of literature and the availability of software tools for this complex socio-technical problem. However, these developments have been proposed in an isolated way and from different angles. This paper provides a high-level perspective on these techniques and tools. First, it proposes a comprehensive but compact description of the rural electrification problem, complemented with a stylized general formulation. This formulation, which was missing in the literature, can set a common ground for comparing different tools and methods. Then, we study the main tools and methodologies related to this problem. Methods for generation sizing and network design are analyzed and classified as well, since these subproblems are closely related to the rural electrification problem. Their relative advantages and downsides are discussed. The analysis concludes with the identification of the main research needs in this field, which would be key to solve the rural electrification challenge globally in an efficient manner.
Keywords: rural electrification; software tool; electrification methodology; energy technology; electricity access.
Registration date: 2017-09-06