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Energy and sustainability transitions: the case of community renewables for off-grid rural electrification in Nigeria with emphasis on Shape community project.

Butu, Ahmed Ibrahim


Ahmed Ibrahim Butu


Abhishek Agarwal


The transition from one energy system to another has been analysed by many researchers especially in the context of developed countries. Community renewable energy transition in rural areas is largely under-researched, particularly in developing countries. This study developed a model based on indicators from transition theory and concepts to assess the transformative potential of the processes and governance approaches to community renewable energy in accelerating energy and sustainability transition in off-grid communities in Nigeria. The exploratory research adopted a case study approach and analysed renewable energy planning and decision-making processes as well as evaluated the development of a pilot community renewable energy project in Shape rural community in Nigeria. In addition to documentary evidence, the study gathered data primarily by interviewing 24 relevant actors in the Nigerian electricity industry as well as actors involved in the pilot community renewable energy project. The study reveals that the processes and governance approaches adopted are in line with transition theory and have the potential of contributing to the transformation of the rural electricity provision in Nigeria. However, there is still a long way to go for Nigeria to effectively implement an integrated governance approach capable of accelerating the transition processes. The study found that community renewable energy is motivated by several determinants including: the lack of energy accessibility; removing carbon emissions; meeting environmental obligations; achieving energy security; and, addressing cracks in the current system of rural electrification. The study further found a lack of local initiatives at the grassroots level that can add pressure to make the transition happen. The study found the establishment of an arena for the identification of the challenges facing rural communities and development of strategies. However, some prominent actors are not involved in both strategic decision-making and the implementation process. Of concern, the study revealed a lack of clearly defined responsibilities with most of the government agencies carrying out renewable energy activities independently. Similarly, the study found several barriers which are classified as: actor; interaction; institutional; infrastructural; and, socio-political that are challenging the successful transition to community renewable energy. This work contributes to current attempts to operationalise transition theory and concepts to assess on-going transition processes and governance. This is a significant contribution to the literature because it helps in linking theoretical development with sustainability in practice in a developing country context. The study may assist policy makers, communities and other relevant stakeholders in designing an integrated governance framework for renewable energy transition in rural areas.


BUTU, A.I. 2017. Energy and sustainability transitions: the case of community renewables for off-grid rural electrification in Nigeria with emphasis on Shape community project. Robert Gordon University, PhD thesis.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 14, 2017
Publicly Available Date Aug 14, 2017
Keywords Energy transition; Sustainability transition; Rural electrification; Community renewable energy; Energy transition management; Energy governance
Public URL
Award Date Apr 30, 2017


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