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Special Issue "Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification"

A special issue of Energies (ISSN 1996-1073). This special issue belongs to the section "A: Sustainable Energy".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 December 2021) | Viewed by 15589

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Javier Domínguez Bravo
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Energy Department, CIEMAT, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Interests: GIS application in the development of renewable energy technologies on a regional basis and rural electrification; development of GIS for assessment in PV solar roofs; universal access to energy; energy poverty and renewable energy; hybrid systems connected to microgrid for isolated villages
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Jorge M Islas-Samperio
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Co-Guest Editor
Institute of Renewable Energies, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Morelos 62580, México
Interests: prospective for the Transition to Low Carbon Energy Systems; energy for Sustainable development in rural areas; economy and policy of renewable energy and efficient use of energy; sustainability and policies for the use of bioenergy in rural areas
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to submit your original research, overview papers, and reviews to this Special Issue of Energies on “Renewable Rural Energy.”

For a long time, the problem of rural energy has been approached from multiple specialties, which sometimes on the access to energy and poverty, and sometimes on the perspective of the countryside as a provider of energy for the cities.

This Special Issue addresses a prospect beyond conventional electrification, taking into account technical, social, economic, and geographical aspects for the promotion of sustainable energy and energy transition in rural areas.

To promote the use of sustainable energy within rural communities, we would like to take a global approach to the problem, taking into account the perspectives of scholars specialized in this matter.

 

Topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Rural energy resources and endogenous development
  • Hybrid microgrids of renewable energy systems in isolated locations
  • Spatial analysis of renewable energy resources in rural areas
  • GIS for rural electrification
  • Energy and fuels access in rural areas
  • Demand-side design of energy systems from a rural point of view
  • New storage forms for rural energy and electrification
  • Fuelwood forest and improved cookstoves and energy efficiencies in rural industries
  • Rural bioenergy consumption and production
  • Rural electrification and small hydropower
  • Delivering heating innovation to rural areas
  • Rural energy and Post-COVID19 economic recovery
  • Rural consumers and low carbon transition

Prof. Dr. Javier Domínguez Bravo
Dr. Jorge M Islas-Samperio
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Energies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Rural energy resources and endogenous development
  • Rural electrification and no electrical uses
  • Universal access to energy
  • Renewable energy and microgrids
  • Bioenergy, hybrid systems, and cogeneration in rural areas

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Socioeconomic and Environmental Aspects of Traditional Firewood for Cooking on the Example of Rural and Peri-Urban Mexican Households
Energies 2022, 15(13), 4904; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15134904 - 05 Jul 2022
Viewed by 868
Abstract
Firewood is a solid biofuel that is widely used for cooking in Mexico’s residential sector. This study seeks to identify relevant factors in firewood consumption patterns, and their implications for climate change, gender, and health, and for energy poverty in Mexico, by climate [...] Read more.
Firewood is a solid biofuel that is widely used for cooking in Mexico’s residential sector. This study seeks to identify relevant factors in firewood consumption patterns, and their implications for climate change, gender, and health, and for energy poverty in Mexico, by climate region and socioeconomic level. For this purpose, a statistical analysis was conducted of recently published official information. We estimate that a total of 31.3 million Mexicans—26% of the total population—use firewood, and we have identified three main types of users: (i) exclusive firewood users (30%); (ii) mixed firewood users using firewood as their primary fuel (18%) and (iii) mixed firewood users using firewood as their secondary fuel source (52%). Total consumption of firewood was estimated at 116.6 PJ, while estimated greenhouse gas emissions were 8.1 million tCO2e. Out of all the households studied, 53% were in the tropical climate region; 59% were categorized as being in the “low” socioeconomic level; and 75% were in population centers comprising fewer than 2500 inhabitants. Some 68% of households do not pay for the acquisition of firewood, and for those households that do pay for the resource, estimated transactions total USD 286.9 million. Expenditures on firewood for energy represent up to 10% of household income. Finally, it was estimated that 15.7 million direct users of firewood are women who use the resource in three-stone fires, in which they expose themselves to health risks in doing so. In conclusion, main universal findings, the study’s limitations, and future research are presented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Potential Use of Pruning Residues from Avocado Trees as Energy Input in Rural Communities
Energies 2022, 15(5), 1715; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15051715 - 25 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1191
Abstract
The global need to transition to renewable and decentralized systems entails agricultural systems as producers of residual biomass. Avocado trees (Persea americana Mill.) are one of the main woody crops cultivated in Mexico, with over 150,000 hectares grown in the country. The [...] Read more.
The global need to transition to renewable and decentralized systems entails agricultural systems as producers of residual biomass. Avocado trees (Persea americana Mill.) are one of the main woody crops cultivated in Mexico, with over 150,000 hectares grown in the country. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the use of avocado pruning residues as an energy input, focusing on the revalorization of biomass and the generation of economic benefits for small producers in the region. For that purpose, we developed allometric equations to calculate biomass availability from pruning residues, evaluated their thermochemical properties, and proposed technological alternatives for their energy use. Two allometric equations for pruning residues as a function of tree height and crown diameter were obtained: one for light and minor maintenance pruning (R2 = 0.63) and one for rejuvenation pruning (R2 = 0.86). From these equations, we estimate the mean amount of biomass generated from light and rejuvenation pruning to be 42.7 and 25.1 kg per tree and year, respectively, which amounts to 1324 and 780 kg ha−1 DM (dry matter), with an energy potential of 26.2 and 15.4 GJ ha−1. The thermochemical analysis shows that a higher proportion of leaves generates a higher ash content, which reduces the quality of the residues as a fuel. Avocado pruning residues have high potential for energy use and could be implemented in the industrial and residential sectors, generating a complementary source of income for producers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Solid Biofuels Scenarios from Rural Agricultural and Forestry Residues for Mexican Industrial SMEs
Energies 2021, 14(20), 6560; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14206560 - 12 Oct 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1258
Abstract
In Mexico, as in the rest of the world, the industry sector is frequently highly dependent on fossil fuels; in addition, energy transformation processes are not very efficient and scarcely oriented towards climate change mitigation. Given these facts, solid biofuels (SBFs) from agricultural [...] Read more.
In Mexico, as in the rest of the world, the industry sector is frequently highly dependent on fossil fuels; in addition, energy transformation processes are not very efficient and scarcely oriented towards climate change mitigation. Given these facts, solid biofuels (SBFs) from agricultural and forestry residues from rural areas may represent an alternative that contributes to the decarbonization of the industrial sector, especially in Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). From an economic and climate change mitigation perspective, this study evaluates harnessing SBFs in SMEs related to lime, bricks, dairy products, craft beer, and artisanal mezcal (a well-known Mexican distilled alcoholic beverage), products mainly manufactured in rural areas of Mexico. For each of these SMEs, we constructed two energy consumption scenarios that span from 2018 to 2050. On the one hand, a baseline scenario (BS) that reflects the behaviour of historical energy consumption in Mexico and, on the other hand, an alternative scenario (AS) that proposes the use of SBFs with modern and efficient technologies and sustainable inputs of agricultural and forestry residues originated mainly from rural areas. According to our results, a comparison between the two scenarios reveals that two out of five SMEs industrial niches studied, appear with mitigation costs in the AS namely brick kilns, and limekilns SMEs that have mitigation costs of 9.99 and 19.74 USD/tCO2e, respectively, primarily due to the high investment cost of the new MK2 kilns and the relatively high cost of pellets, respectively. Since these niches have high mitigation potentials (7.77 MtCO2e for brick kilns and 2.83 MtCO2e for limekilns), their implementation requires adequate incentives and financing. On the contrary, the dairy, craft beer, and mezcal SMEs niches have negative mitigation costs (−14.30, −10.68, −0.98) USD/tCO2e, mainly due to the high savings in the cost of fossil fuels and their materialization, especially for the mezcal niche which has a mitigation potential of 2.97 MtCO2e, requires only an adequate regulatory and normative framework. We conclude that using commercial SBFs (pellets, briquettes, and traditional firewood) in SMEs niches contribute to generating formal markets with adequate distribution channels, both for SBFs and sustainable residual biomass inputs (residual firewood, agave bagasse, and spent barley grain). This alternative scenario also promotes the creation of green jobs in agricultural and forestry areas, adding an economic value to residual biomass inputs not previously considered and contributing to the social development of rural areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Heuristic Methodology for Planning AC Rural Medium-Voltage Distribution Grids
Energies 2021, 14(16), 5141; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14165141 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 937
Abstract
The optimal expansion of AC medium-voltage distribution grids for rural applications is addressed in this study from a heuristic perspective. The optimal routes of a distribution feeder are selected by applying the concept of a minimum spanning tree by limiting the number of [...] Read more.
The optimal expansion of AC medium-voltage distribution grids for rural applications is addressed in this study from a heuristic perspective. The optimal routes of a distribution feeder are selected by applying the concept of a minimum spanning tree by limiting the number of branches that are connected to a substation (mixed-integer linear programming formulation). In order to choose the caliber of the conductors for the selected feeder routes, the maximum expected current that is absorbed by the loads is calculated, thereby defining the minimum thermal bound of the conductor caliber. With the topology and the initial selection of the conductors, a tabu search algorithm (TSA) is implemented to refine the solution with the help of a three-phase power flow simulation in MATLAB for three different load conditions, i.e., maximum, medium, and minimum consumption with values of 100%, 60%, and 30%, respectively. This helps in calculating the annual costs of the energy losses that will be summed with the investment cost in conductors for determining the final costs of the planning project. Numerical simulations in two test feeders comprising 9 and 25 nodes with one substation show the effectiveness of the proposed methodology regarding the final grid planning cost; in addition, the heuristic selection of the calibers using the minimum expected current absorbed by the loads provides at least 70% of the calibers that are contained in the final solution of the problem. This demonstrates the importance of using adequate starting points to potentiate metaheuristic optimizers such as the TSA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Demand-Side Optimal Sizing of a Solar Energy–Biomass Hybrid System for Isolated Greenhouse Environments: Methodology and Application Example
Energies 2021, 14(13), 3724; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14133724 - 22 Jun 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1301
Abstract
The water–energy–food nexus has captured the attention of many researchers and policy makers for the potential synergies between those sectors, including the development of self-sustainable solutions for agriculture systems. This paper poses a novel design approach aimed at balancing the trade-off between the [...] Read more.
The water–energy–food nexus has captured the attention of many researchers and policy makers for the potential synergies between those sectors, including the development of self-sustainable solutions for agriculture systems. This paper poses a novel design approach aimed at balancing the trade-off between the computational burden and accuracy of the results. The method is based on the combination of static energy hub models of the system components and rule-based control to simulate the operational costs over a one-year period as well as a global optimization algorithm that provides, from those results, a design that maximizes the solar energy contribution. The presented real-world case study is based on an isolated greenhouse, whose water needs are met due to a desalination facility, both acting as heat consumers, as well as a solar thermal field and a biomass boiler that cover the demand. Considering the Almerian climate and 1 ha of tomato crops with two growing seasons, the optimal design parameters were determined to be (with a solar fraction of 16% and a biomass fraction of 84%): 266 m2 for the incident area of the solar field, 425 kWh for the thermal storage system, and 4234 kW for the biomass-generated power. The Levelized Cost of Heat (LCOH) values obtained for the solar field and biomass boiler were 0.035 and 0.078 €/kWh, respectively, and the discounted payback period also confirmed the profitability of the plant for fuel prices over 0.05 €/kWh. Thus, the proposed algorithm is useful as an innovative decision-making tool for farmers, for whom the burden of transitioning to sustainable farming systems might increase in the near future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Rural Electrification Pathways: An Implementation of LEAP and GIS Tools in Mali
Energies 2021, 14(11), 3338; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14113338 - 06 Jun 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1873
Abstract
Remote rural populations do not often have the luxury of viable multisource electricity generation systems. Considering fossil fuels for remote populated areas is not often a viable option due to the fuel transportation costs and the population’s socioeconomic status. Extending the grid is [...] Read more.
Remote rural populations do not often have the luxury of viable multisource electricity generation systems. Considering fossil fuels for remote populated areas is not often a viable option due to the fuel transportation costs and the population’s socioeconomic status. Extending the grid is often economically prohibitive. This paper proposes possible ways in which Mali could increase the rate of population with access to electricity by 2050 using Low Emission Analysis Platform (LEAP) and geographical information tools. The current energy situation is assessed, and multiple demand and supply scenarios are created to find the most viable option in environmental and economic dimensions. A minimum of 50% reduction of biomass consumption in the residential sector and a maximum of 71% was achieved through the combination of grid extension and decentralized solar PV. Solar PV becomes the preferable option when enough time for the effects of electricity on income is given. When these effects are not present, solar PV is still a better option, as the amount of biomass replaced with electricity is reduced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Effect of Symmetrically Switched Rectifier Topologies on the Frequency Regulation of Standalone Micro-Hydro Power Plants
Energies 2021, 14(11), 3201; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14113201 - 30 May 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1158
Abstract
Micro-hydro power plants (μHPPs) are a major energy source in grid-isolated zones because they do not require reservoirs and dams to be built. μHPPs operate in a standalone mode, but a continuously varying load generates voltage unbalances and frequency fluctuations which can cause [...] Read more.
Micro-hydro power plants (μHPPs) are a major energy source in grid-isolated zones because they do not require reservoirs and dams to be built. μHPPs operate in a standalone mode, but a continuously varying load generates voltage unbalances and frequency fluctuations which can cause long-term damage to plant components. One method of frequency regulation is the use of alternating current-alternating current (AC-AC) converters as an electronic load controller (ELC). The disadvantage of AC-AC converters is reactive power consumption with the associated decrease in both the power factor and the capacity of the alternator to deliver current. To avoid this disadvantage, we proposed two rectifier topologies combined with symmetrical switching. However, the performance of the frequency regulation loop with each topology remains unknown. Therefore, the objective of this work was to evaluate the performance of the frequency regulation loop when each topology, with a symmetrical switching form, was inserted. A MATLAB® model was implemented to simulate the frequency loop. The results from a μHPP case study in a small Cuban rural community called ‘Los Gallegos’ showed that the performance of the frequency regulation loop using the proposed topologies satisfied the standard frequency regulation and increased both the power factor and current delivery capabilities of the alternator. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Article
Sustainability Evaluation of Non-Toxic Jatropha curcas in Rural Marginal Soil for Obtaining Biodiesel Using Life-Cycle Assessment
Energies 2021, 14(10), 2746; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14102746 - 11 May 2021
Viewed by 1072
Abstract
Using information from an experimental planting of non-toxic Jatropha curcas (NTJC) with minimal water and fertilization resources on rural marginal soil the objective of this article is to determine the sustainability of this raw material for producing biodiesel and the possibilities for improving [...] Read more.
Using information from an experimental planting of non-toxic Jatropha curcas (NTJC) with minimal water and fertilization resources on rural marginal soil the objective of this article is to determine the sustainability of this raw material for producing biodiesel and the possibilities for improving it through life-cycle assessment (LCA). Three production scenarios were studied: minimal resources (MR), which focuses on the obtaining of biodiesel; minimal resources and utilization of sub-products (MRUS), which includes the utilization of the residual products in order to produce food and solid biofuels, as well as biodiesel; and utilization of biofertilizers, flood irrigation, and sub-products (UBIS), which incorporates the use of bio-fertilizers and irrigation in the production system. This study includes the selection of six sustainability indicators, as well as indicators by means of LCA methodology Finally, a sustainability index (SI) for each scenario was determined on the basis of an index of environmental sustainability of energy products (IESEP). Our results indicated that the MR scenario yielded the lowest SI 0.673, while the MRUS scenario had the highest SI 0.956. It concludes that sustainability is greater when it utilizes minimal water and fertilization resources during the raw material production stage, and the residual products are used for food and energy products made possible by the non-toxic properties of Jatropha curcas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Review

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Review
Energy Supply System Modeling Tools Integrating Sustainable Livelihoods Approach—Contribution to Sustainable Development in Remote Communities: A Review
Energies 2022, 15(7), 2668; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15072668 - 05 Apr 2022
Viewed by 878
Abstract
The fulfillment of the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (UN) in remote communities undoubtedly goes through the consequent development of the energy supply system (ESS). Structuring a procedure for modeling the ESS, according to development requirements, is vital for decision making. [...] Read more.
The fulfillment of the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (UN) in remote communities undoubtedly goes through the consequent development of the energy supply system (ESS). Structuring a procedure for modeling the ESS, according to development requirements, is vital for decision making. This publication reviews the main methods for designing local development programs that apply a sustainable livelihoods approach and a group of modeling tools for ESS. The necessary criteria are verified to structure a model that integrates the expectations of sustainable development, through the indicators of sustainable livelihoods (SLs), with the requirements of the ESS and the use of available renewable energy resources. In the review carried out, it is found that the methods of analysis and planning of sustainable local development are disconnected from the models for energy planning. On the other hand, the relationship of the indicators for calculating SLs with the characteristics and behavior of energy demand with respect to time is verified. The main criteria, parameters, and optimization methods necessary for the design and expansion of ESS in hard-to-reach areas are also discussed. Lastly, the necessary elements are proposed to be validated through a future study case for the dimensioning and expansion of ESS in hard-to-reach communities, integrating the analysis of development programs based on SLs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Review
An Update on the Electronic Connection Issues of Low Power SWTs in AC-Coupled Systems: A Review and Case Study
Energies 2022, 15(6), 2082; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15062082 - 12 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1249
Abstract
Small wind turbines (SWTs) have been a common option for rural electrification during recent decades. Recently, an application for connecting these devices to the grid was proposed. This requires an AC-coupled configuration, which brings the need for a power converter necessary for connection [...] Read more.
Small wind turbines (SWTs) have been a common option for rural electrification during recent decades. Recently, an application for connecting these devices to the grid was proposed. This requires an AC-coupled configuration, which brings the need for a power converter necessary for connection to the AC bus. This publication analyzes the requirements and commercial availability of such power converters, coming first to a conclusion on the lack of existing electronic power converters for SWTs, mainly in the lowest power range (<1 kW). As a result of this need, PV power converters were proposed, as they are both economically competitive and commercially available. The use of PV power converters for SWT AC-coupled applications is therefore analyzed as well, bringing a second conclusion: their use is possible but not straightforward, as some adaptations have to be taken into account. Finally, a suggested adaptation is proposed, in terms of hardware and software; the first field results of a prototype are presented, and they look very promising. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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Review
Understanding the Access to Fuels and Technologies for Cooking in Peru
Energies 2022, 15(4), 1456; https://doi.org/10.3390/en15041456 - 16 Feb 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1740
Abstract
There is global concern regarding access to energy, especially in developing countries, as set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals. Although Peru is classified as an emerging economy and would be expected to have achieved full energy coverage, the status of the access [...] Read more.
There is global concern regarding access to energy, especially in developing countries, as set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals. Although Peru is classified as an emerging economy and would be expected to have achieved full energy coverage, the status of the access to fuels in Peru is unknown. The objective of this study was to comprehensively document the instruments and the progress made on the issue of access to modern fuels and technologies for cooking in Peru to explain the current situation and to highlight the main challenges that the country must face to achieve total access to modern energy sources. A comprehensive literature review was carried out for this work, covering a wide range of publications from 1983 to 2019. A total of 18 political and economic instruments and 95 voluntary instruments were analyzed. It made it possible to build a historical series of the main events leading to access to modern cooking fuels in Peru and to identify eight key challenges. The results show that the country has made remarkable progress in recent years, but this progress is not enough to close the access gap. Therefore, seems advisable to act on the current policy framework, formulate more inclusive policies, promote unified institutional efforts and generate technological options that respond to territory and population as diverse as Peru. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Renewable Energy Utilization and Electrification)
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