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Energy policy is an extension of national policy. National policy is the touchstone in evaluating, establishing and defending a national renewable energy policy. Therefore, it is essential that renewable energy objectives be a logical extension of national goals.

In identifying the national goals relevant to establishing renewable energy policy objectives, identify the key goals for the nation and how the electricity sector fits among its priorities. Most nations engage in a planning process that expresses a vision for its economy. This vision generally includes the improvement of the quality of life for all of its citizens. Many nations have recognized that in order to attain this objective of a better life, it is necessary to develop a broad strategy based on human development and international competitiveness. To fulfill such broad-based strategies, nations will, among other avenues, look to their electricity sectors to help fuel the desired economic growth and enhancement of the general well being of the population.

In order for a country to achieve the goal of economic growth and elimination of poverty, it is generally necessary to achieve the objective of improving the availability and reliability of its electricity system. This objective has in turn, sub-objectives such as lowering energy costs for the present as well as for the future, using indigenous resources to prevent an outflow of capital, and complying with national and global environmental standards.

As a threshold action, articulate the hierarchy of national goals, clearly differentiating between the desired ends and the means devised to reach those ends.

How may a national electricity plan be formulated based on underlying national goals?

The following approaches can be helpful in identifying where activities in the energy and electricity sectors can play an integral part in achieving the underlying national goals of any country. In formulating a renewable energy policy, test each potential objective against the national policy goal it is designed to advance.

Determine, within the overall goals of the nation, the importance of developing the electricity sector, and the means for its growth and operation. The following questions are examples only, and not exhaustive. The exercise is to identify the underlying goals of the national policies.

· What are the government and private-sector investment goals for national growth and development?

· What are the relative roles of the government and the private sector in the development, ownership and control of national resources?

· What are the goals for development of rural and remote areas?

· What are the national goals for the development of new industries?

· What are the national goals for resource self-reliance?

Set forth national, regional or utility electricity objectives in a plan. In countries with highly centralized governments, national electric-sector objectives are typically incorporated in comprehensive national plans. Planning for the national electricity system takes many forms. In decentralized systems, planning - whether such planning is by utilities, central plants, or committees composed of generators, transmitters and distributors - is essential to continuing viability and profitability. A comprehensive national plan is not a key to success, nor is its absence fatal. The United States has never had a national plan for its electricity system, yet its national grid is considered successful. Nevertheless, electric-sector planning remains a valuable tool, and policy strategists will need to determine the role of government in establishing the overall objectives for this sector. In particular, policy makers in countries undergoing shifts from public-sector to private-sector ownership of the electricity sector will need to ensure that, if electric system planning is turned over to the private sector, safeguards are in place. Such safeguards should be designed to ensure that long-term energy security objectives will continue to be achieved, and the growth and diversity of generation, transmission and distribution capacity will be optimized.

A coordinated or comprehensive plan is more easily accomplished in those countries which have strong public controls over the electricity sector. However, such a plan is not inappropriate in a privatized, market setting - especially when a government is seeking to implement broader sustainable development goals. A government’s establishment and promotion of national priorities are neither inconsistent nor antagonistic to a market-driven system.

How may a national renewable energy policy be formulated based on a national energy plan?

As part of its energy policy, a country will determine its objectives with respect to the use of renewable energy resources. These objectives may be expressed as a commitment to having a certain percentage of the overall energy base come from renewables or may be a commitment to having a certain percentage of the available renewable energy resources developed within a certain time frame. In either event, the commitment should be reflective of the country’s strategic goals.

Mindful of national goals, the plan should determine whether renewable resource development is a national energy objective. For example, if replacing government expenditures with private investment monies is a primary objective of the electricity sector, encouraging private-sector investment in renewable- resource development is properly envisioned as a means to that end. On the other hand, if development of indigenous resources is the sector objective, the mix between government-sector and private-sector investment may be different. In many countries, the sector objectives will vary dependent on whether a national policy goal focuses on urban or rural development.

Comprehensive policy statements usually include what, when, where and how a country wants to achieve an objective do as well as what it wants to avoid.

A hypothetical example of such a policy statement follows:




Provide rural citizens with services and the generation of more electricity


Environmental damage.


Within “y” years.


Bureaucratic process delays


Urban and remote sectors.


Failure to develop rural sectors.


Through indigenous resources.


Rely on imported fuels.

Through private-sector investment

Using public expenditures on urban electricity development

How do renewable resources fit into a country “generation mix”?

Determine how renewable energy promotion achieves sector objectives

By understanding electricity sector objectives, the policy maker is better situated to determine whether, and to what extent, employing renewable energy resources may achieve these objectives. As part of this analysis, however, the policy maker will require an understanding of which renewable resources are available and at what cost and benefit. Translating electricity sector objectives into a rational generation mix requires constructing a supply/demand/needs analysis. The electricity sector objectives for growth of the electricity system identifies new generation, transmission and distribution needs for both the urban and rural sectors. The policy strategist will want to identify the mix of technologies that might effectively be deployed in meeting the country’s energy needs for the short-term and the long-term. Objectives might include development of a sustainable electricity sector with low cost fossil fuels using advanced dean burning technologies, and a given percentage of generation from renewable, indigenous resources. This combination of generation resources is often referred to as a country’s generation mix”. Multilateral development agencies, various non-governmental organizations, private consultants and existing utilities have provided assistance to countries in analysis and development of objectives for its generation mix.

Select the most appropriate technology by assessing such variables as resource availability, life-cycle cost, demand and environmental considerations.

How does a country develop an infrastructure resource base?

The critical issue for the energy strategist is how to develop human skills and material support infrastructure when a new renewable technology is introduced into a country. How does one “jump start” a technician and infrastructure resource base? In general, national institutions must develop (or hire) technical experts who train local technicians. Targeted training enables development of a skilled technical work force. Pre-commercial infrastructure development is more problematic. If a policy planner can identify existing local supply, production and manufacturing capabilities and encourage them to develop additional capacity for supporting renewable technologies, an in-county infrastructure basis may be developed. If no existing infrastructure capabilities are available, usually the only recourse is to work with a private-sector partner to develop import capacity until in-county capacity is achievable.

Develop in-country technical capacity which is essential for on-going system support.

Local implementing institutions generally have a fundamental knowledge of the local market, but they often require hardware, technical assistance, and capital at the initial stages of program or project development from outside institutions. International linkages have been particularly effective in providing scarce capital, management techniques and newly commercialized technologies. The policy strategist may seek to encourage linkages between local institutions and technical laboratories, bilateral aid agencies, product suppliers, project developers, and international non-governmental organizations. If encouraged, such linkages promote technology transfer and develop local skills.

· Sustainability is dependent upon the availability of local, competent technical support - both human expertise and quality repair parts.

In-country technical capacity is essential for on-going system support. Sustainability of any technology installation is dependent upon the availability of local, competent technical support - both human expertise and quality repair parts. Technical skill can be developed through on-the-job experience. Material support capacity will evolve as the level of installations of a given technology allows commercial investment in marketing or manufacturing material in-country.

· Technical skill can be developed through training and on-the-job experience.

How may a public/private partnership advance policy formulation?

In most countries, a government/private-sector partnership strengthens the national ability to attract private investment and to implement rational development of national energy resources and national, universal electrification.

· Material support capacity will evolve as the size and number of installations of a given technology allows commercial investment in marketing or manufacturing material in-country.

The political strategist would be well advised to include representatives of all the interested and effected stakeholder groups in the development of a plan. A broadly based task force or advisory group instituted to prepare and develop a plan may include not only representatives of the relevant governmental agencies, ministries and utilities, but also legislators, unions, developers, equipment manufacturers, local officials, NGOs, lending institutions (including multilateral development agencies), bankers, lawyers, engineers, consumers and any other group having a vested interest in the plan. This level of involvement is critical to the success of the plan. If all interested parties have participated in the development of the plan, they will be more likely to become invested in its success. Legislators will generally desire to be involved with the executive branch in moving the planning process forward. Additionally, through the planning process all may become better educated and knowledgeable concerning issues related to the development of renewable energy resources and electrification.

The basic policy mechanism is to incorporate the affected players in establishing electricity-sector objectives.

Inclusion ensures that all potential objectives have been identified, their pros and cons carefully weighed, and to obtain the political support needed for implementation of any strategic plan.

Early in the electricity policy-making process include representatives of all the interested and affected stakeholder groups.

In national policy planning, many energy and electricity sector policy strategists have effectively involved the office of the national chief executive early in the policy making process. Commitment of the office of the head of state to supporting a plan of renewable energy development enhances chances of achieving planned objectives. In a government environment where there are often competing demands on agencies’ limited fiscal and human resources, chances of achieving planned objectives will be greatly enhanced if those involved recognize the support and commitment of the top levels of government.

A fundamental institutional objective is to transfer necessary skills to local implementers. Opportunity exists for training at all levels of the sector, from utility leaders to system users.

Renewable energy sector objectives will also address how electricity will be provided to those isolated areas not connected to a national system. This aspect of the plan will address the methodology and technologies which will be utilized to accomplish the identified objectives for these areas. This Manual discusses the specific needs of the rural and remote sectors in later sections.

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