Renewable energy systems (RES) have a vital role in a country’s rural and comprehensive development programs. Renewable resources for the generation of electricity (e.g., wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) are typically most abundant and practical resources for development in rural areas. Such green development plans create an opportunity for rural electric utilities that are at a geographical advantage for investment in these projects. Renewable energy systems represent the most environment friendly and cost-effective means of providing electricity to those living in rural communities or regions in developing countries. However, providing energy for rural areas considering the geographical desperation, various different climate conditions, demographic variation, economic crises, etc. requires substantial time and facilities.
Governmental energy supply strategies and dependency on fossil fuels has slowed the process of renewable energy system developments. However, environmental pollution caused by fossil fuels,electricity production and the high associated maintenance costs of the distribution grid has always been problematic in rural areas. These issues have led countries to shift toward clean energy strategies. However, this has been relatively slow and in many countries the proportion of the rural population supplied with electricity remains low and the proportion supplied with electricity from renewable energy systems is even lower. There are technical, social, cultural, institutional, geographical and economic barriers to the deployment of renewable energy systems and, thus, to their ability to contribute to the long term development of rural clean energy. This paper aims to analyze barriers and suggests promising approaches for overcoming them toward a sustainable development in Iran. To understand the causes of this barriers, first a literatures review on rural renewable energy development programs in developing countries is under taken. Second, findings from a survey on the expertise’s knowledge state of renewable energy development in rural areas of Iran have been used to define optimal development solutions and comments to overcome technical, economic, social and political barriers.
A questionnaire was sent to one hundred and ten experts. Which thirty-eight of them responded, including 17 experts in the field of energy and 14 experts from the field of urban planning and development, and Seven experts from responsible agencies. Eighteen of the above-mentioned were university faculties and twenty-three of them had a Ph.D. It should be noted that the number of distributed questionnaires was based on the ratio of the number of questions to each subject field.
Results show that in Iran, about two third of barriers are related to economical (37%) and political (29%) issues. These results are in line with developing countries such as Pakistan. However, in developed countries such as Austria despite the supportive policies, policy issues are still counted as main renewable energy development barriers. The present study has tried to examine the renewable energy development strategies by assessing the barriers to clean energy in rural areas and recognizing development capacities in the country, which could lead to priorities such as the allocation of clean energy subsidies, long-term and short-term loans, educational and cultural development in this field and engaging relevant organizations such as, policy makers, consumers, NGOs and media. Certainly, rural environments in terms of energy demand and consumption intensity, geographical dispersion and different economic conditions are different than urban environments. For this reason, policies, programs and public mechanisms should be based on statistical knowledge and understanding the capacities. Also, due to the importance of energy economy, on a larger scale, the level of access to energy and its relationship with the income level of individuals, should also be studied in comparison to urban conditions and rural areas of other countries.