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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Distributed Generation and Sustainable Energy Systems

Franco Gonzalez-Zenteno

Distributed Generation and Sustainable Energy Systems


Developing countries need more energy and cleaner energy to overcome poverty and to set them on strong growth paths. At the heart of the debate about the future of global energy is how to expand supplies and access to energy for the world’s poor in ways that meet the needs of both the current generation and all future generations. At the beginning of the 21th century 1.4 billion people still have no access to electricity. Planning for sustainable energy systems in the context of energy access is becoming a complex exercise. Distributed Generation or Decentralized Generation has been increasingly considered as a complementary option for traditional grid extension. One of the main parameters that influence the decision between these two electrification approaches is the level of demand to be satisfied as this is one of the main cost drivers.

From a development perspective the level of Demand to be considered as “Energy Access” is still undergoing discussions at international policy level and provisions are being undertaken to consider productive uses of energy into an international accepted definition of Energy Access. Under the principles of Sustainable Development in the engineering practice, the provision of efficient use of resources in the planning stage is a relevant consideration to enhance the sustainability of the project. Demand Side Management a concept originated in the 1980´s as a mean to achieve a more efficient use of the electricity system is now being promoted as an approach to support the imperative demand of creating sustainable energy systems. This dissertation we will assess the role of Demand Side Management in enhancing the sustainability of the electrification process and provide insights about how this practice could be integrated in the electrification planning stage.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.