Power for development: A review of distributed generation projects in the developing world

Jennifer N. Brass, Sanya Carley, Lauren M. Maclean, Elizabeth Baldwin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The paradigm for providing affordable electricity for the world's poor-power for development-has begun to change. Historically, centralized governments built large consolidated power plants and distribution and transmission lines with the ultimate goal of providing electricity to all of their citizens. It has become increasingly common in recent decades, however, for donors, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), firms, and communities to collaborate with governments to develop small-scale localized energy systems known as distributed generation (DG) either as complements or alternatives to centralized operations. DG programs have been implemented around the world but with a mixed record of success. Based on an analysis of the existing case study literature, we examine DG program goals and outcomes, identifying major factors that affect these outcomes, including appropriately chosen technology, adequate financing and payment arrangements, ongoing end users' involvement, and supportive national policies. We highlight the importance of institutions for collaborative governance in the pursuit of these factors. ©

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-136
Number of pages30
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative governance
  • DG
  • Developing countries
  • Electrification
  • Energy policy
  • Renewable energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)


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