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Chapter IV - Guidelines for launching an integrated rural energy planning programme

50. The need, design and implementation of a framework, which has as basic feature the preparation and implementation of area-based integrated rural energy plans and projects, has been discussed in the previous chapters. Since a large number of problems and constraints have to be overcome in order to make the framework operational, and large numbers of institutions, departments and agencies are involved, this task can be taken up in stages as part of a comprehensive and systematic integrated rural energy planning programme.

51. The broad outline for such a programme, which through micro-level pilot exercises is built up into a national-level operational programme, is described in the following paragraphs. This phased programme, although developed on the basis of the experience in India and other countries, is flexible enough to enable it to be appropriately adapted to the specific situation in any developing country. The programme may be developed in four phases, as discussed below. The phases of the programme need not be sequential, and there can be some overlapping, with one or more phases being combined where necessary.

Phase I - Awareness building

52. The first phase may focus on awareness building at policy making, planning and implementation levels, on the need for adopting an integrated approach for energy planning and sustainable agriculture and rural development. The various government departments and agencies concerned, semi-government and private sector organizations, including research and development organizations, and industry representatives, banking community, and voluntary organizations, etc., have to be actively involved.

53. A task force may be formed at the national level under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (or the Planning or Energy Ministry, depending on the Ministry which would be most effective in piloting and developing this complex interdisciplinary programme). The task force, or steering committee may consist of high-level representatives of the different ministries, government departments concerned, and representatives from the major institutions dealing with various aspects of rural energy. Its main role would be to guide the preparation of a National Approach Paper on Rural Energy for the country by a suitable group of professionals.

54. The Approach Paper would work out the magnitude and seriousness of the energy problem in the rural areas of the country, taking into account the energy requirements for rural development in the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors, for a planning horizon of, say, the next 10 - 20 years. The paper would discuss the existing and proposed energy supply programmes and work out the gaps between rural energy demand and supply for the horizon of the study. The paper would then discuss the need, design and development of a framework of integrated rural energy planning for agriculture and rural development, suitable to the institutional and administrative infrastructure of the country, for tackling the rural energy problems at the least possible cost with regard to the economy and the environment.

55. The preparation of the Approach Paper as a government document within the country, utilizing its capabilities, would also serve in order to build awareness, and provide the foundation for coordination between departments and agencies in preparing and implementing a national integrated rural energy planning programme (42).

Phase II - Design and preparation of pilot projects

56. In the second phase, preparation of one or two pilot projects, using the proposed approach for area-based integrated rural energy planning, has to be taken up. The criteria for selecting the size of the micro-planning unit for setting up the pilot projects would depend on the size and geographic features of the country. In a small country only a pilot project may be necessary in the vicinity of the country's capital, in order to make monitoring easier and to provide a demonstration model. Subsequently, one or more pilot projects may be taken up in interior areas which are worse off economically and suffer from serious energy and environmental problems.

57. The planning and implementation of these training pilot projects would serve as demonstration projects and would provide the experience necessary on the planning methodology and techno-economic performance of energy technologies. They would also provide the feedback for the institutional mechanisms at different levels, in order to bring about coordination and integration. The preparation of the pilot projects in this phase would include: the selection of a micro-region; preparation of an integrated area-based rural energy plan; determination of targets for different energy options based on the plan; and preparation of a project document to meet these targets. Specifically, the project should provide energy to meet the basic needs of the rural poor; increase agricultural production; utilize local resources; generate employment opportunities; and protect the environment. (43).

Phase III - Implementation of the pilot protects

58. In this phase of the programme, the actual implementation of the micro-level pilot project is taken up. The implementation of the project may include components for: demonstration, education and extension, with the involvement of the non-governmental organizations and people's representatives to organize people's participation; decisions on the level of financial incentives and subsidies, as part of the micro-level project for achieving targets; setting up a project cell consisting of project officers and technical support staff for project preparation and implementation; and, manpower development and training, including training of village- level employees and rural beneficiaries.

59. A monitoring and evaluation system may also be set up in this phase at the national, provincial and district levels in order to monitor the pilot projects and provide policy and techno-economic guidance, as well as inputs through the different departments and agencies concerned in planning and implementing the micro-level project. Data from the micro-level project can he compiled in order to build a data bank for the preparation of national, provincial and district rural energy plans. Environment assessment of the micro-projects can be carried out as part of this evaluation system. For this purpose, suitable environmental guidelines would have to be developed in coordination with the National Environmental Agency (if it exists) and the rural energy planning units at national, provincial and local levels, which take into account local, as well as national and global environmental concerns.

Phase IV - Programme development, replication and expansion

60. The planning and implementation of the pilot project/projects (Phases II and III) may be covered within a year or so. The implementation (Phase III) may continue longer, but the lessons learned from the pilot projects in this period can be utilized to build and expand the programme in different eco-regions of the country. The structure of the institutional mechanism to be organized at the micro- and country-levels would emerge from the experience gained in the preparation and implementation of these pilot projects.

61. A national level man-power development and training programme can now be organized at different levels to develop the professional capabilities of the project staff, government and non-government officials, together with others directly or indirectly involved in the programme. Existing institutions at the provincial level could be utilized for this purpose and a new training/R&D organization could be set-up at the national level (44).

62. A programme to develop manufacturing capabilities in the country for energy technologies for rural development, as well as for servicing, repairs and maintenance of these devices, can also be organized on a systematic basis during this phase. The manufacturing and industrial sector representatives and bodies, as well as other technical and R&D institutions, including non-governmental organizations, need to be actively involved in the task of developing indigenous industrial capabilities for rural energy technologies.

63. A computer modelling system for the rural energy sector can also be introduced in this phase. The energy data base for the rural areas of the country can be built up by using a mainframe computer at the national and provincial levels, and micro-processors at the micro-level. This computer modelling system provides the linkage between micro-level planning and implementation and macro-level (national and provincial) planning and policy-making. Computer packages are now available which can be utilized for national level planning to capture the energy-economy inter-actions. The utilization of computers in rural energy planning, and the development of computer-based systems and capabilities has been discussed in detail in Reference 45.

64. In summary, the proposed framework can be made operational in the following phases as part of a national integrated rural energy planning programme:

- Establishment of a high level inter-ministerial task force under whose supervision an Approach Paper for Rural Energy for the country is prepared. This phase may extend up to six months.

- Preparation of micro-level pilot projects in one or more selected areas and preparation of area-based integrated rural energy plans and project documents for these areas.

- Implementation of the pilot projects and development of a suitable institutional mechanism at the country level and in the selected areas to implement and monitor the projects. The two phases for preparation and implementation of the pilot projects may extend from one to two years.

- Extension of the pilot integrated rural energy projects to other micro-regions in a phased manner, setting up regular institutional arrangements for planning, implementation and monitoring of the integrated rural energy planning programme; organizing man-power development and a training programme for professionals and others involved in the programme at different levels; introduction of the computer modelling system for the rural energy sector. This phase would eventually result in a regular operational programme (46).

65. The integrated rural energy planning programme described above is therefore developed in phases, by building awareness and local capabilities, by providing demonstration and firsthand experience in the design and implementation of integrated rural energy planning projects, by utilizing and developing local expertise, and thus laying a long lasting enduring foundation for a regular operational programme in the country to bring about sustainable agriculture and rural development through planned inputs of energy.

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