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Table 4 Strengths and weaknesses of rural electrification efforts in Chile based on off-grid PV solutions

From: Sustainability of rural electrification programs based on off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems in Chile

Indicator Strengths Weaknesses
Stability Formal institutions are stable in Chile compared to its Latin American neighbors.  
Regulation and standards Technical standards and regulations for PV systems have been defined (GEF/UNDP program). Standards not mandatory and not necessarily used in tenders.
Decentralization and openness to participation Engagement of communities, in some projects, for example, in the case of the Coquimbo and Huatacondo projects. Lack of (technical) know-how in rural areas (which has affected some PER projects).
Participation is still understood as the provision of information, rather than the engagement of the community from cradle to grave.
Adaptability   Chile lacks a decentralized agency for overseeing off-grid electrification projects.
Affordability Initial investment is covered by the FNDR. No cross-subsidies aimed at covering off-grid costs (from users connected to the grid, for example).
Cost-effectiveness The new Energy Agenda considers the substitution of projects based on diesel generators for cost-effective solutions based on PV. Decisions have been made based on the initial costs only, not considering O&M costs or environmental impacts (life-cycle costs).
Consideration of O&M costs   The costs for O&M of PER-sponsored projects have to be annually approved by the SUBDERE (thus causing uncertainties).
Contribution to income of users PV programs for productive use (such as those sponsored by the INDAP) widespread.  
Reliability of supply Ex-post project evaluations found that most of the systems of the PER program were operational. Reliability depends on the engagement/proactivity and technical skills of the community, which may threaten the sustainability of these projects.
Environmental awareness The younger population exhibits higher awareness on environmental issues. Selection criteria for a technology are still exclusively based on direct costs without considering the environmental impacts.
Environmental impact GEF/UNDP environmental standards for disposal have been established. As environmental standards are not mandatory, battery disposal is often not considered in the projects.
Accessibility (disparity, equity) High electrification rate in Chile (99% national; 97% rural). Indigenous communities still have less access to electricity, since communities have to request electrification at first place. This approach favors better organized communities leaving behind others—normally the poorest indigenous communities.
Social acceptance (accuracy) System size has been upgraded in many local projects. Training on the energy model HOMER for staff of the Ministry of Energy. As no minimum capacity is defined, inaccurate solutions often lead the rejection of off-grid PV systems.
Cultural justice Chilean officials are aware of the importance of local participation. Indeed, cultural factors (gender, ethnical background, roles within a community) are considered in the programs.