The increased use of renewable energy will have significant social impacts. For example, the widespread use of renewable energy systems may lead to increasing or decreasing employment rates in certain regions, depending on their industrial base and whether they are completely reliant on fossil fuels. Other social impacts could include increased consumer choice regarding a household's energy supplier; changing political relations internationally as certain nations end their reliance on others for energy; and expected improvements in health, as more and more citizens are no longer exposed to hazardous wastes and emissions associated with fossil fuels.
Solar Home Systems (SHSs) contribute to sustainable development mainly through the improvement of social aspects of rural life (e.g. education, health, information, communication, etc.). Solar energy has also been effective in lighting up rural areas at night, which has allowed the rural population to engage in more social activites during the night.
The following articles highlight the direct or indirect social impacts of solar energy.
Hydro projects can have both positive and negative social and environmental impacts. However, if anticipated and tackled early in the planning stage of a project with the required resources, the negative impacts can be addressed in a positive manner.
- Micro Hydro Power (MHP) - Socio-economic Development
- Social Impacts and Social Risks in Hydropower Programs: Preemptive Planning and Counter-risk Measures (Michael M. Cernea)
- Social and Environmental Impacts of Hydropower Projects (Water World Today)
Development of bioenergy could lead to better social and economic lifestyle, as it could provide cheaper and environmentally beneficially energy sources mainly biogas and solid biomass.
The social impacts of bioenergy also play a crucial factor on its dissemination. Therefore,the articles below highlight both the social implications as well as social impacts of bioenergy.
Social impacts of improved cooking stoves are for example money and time saving in acquiring fuel as well as skill development and job creation in the community.
Cross Cutting Issues
- A study in rural Assam, India revealed that not only did electrification improve literacy by allowing more study time, it also provided economic stimulus to communities. One of the highlights of the study was the entrepreneurial activities of women in the villages. Having been provided solar PV powered light, women from poorer households would engage in businesses like pickling to maximize the benefits of the light provided. Shops who employed these lamps found an increasing customer base as well and were able to provide better services/products.
- The impacts however aren’t all positive. A study in Borneo found that providing electricity to the community reduced contact between neighbours and a “perceived reduction in social cohesion”.
Battery Charging Systems
- Electricity and Sustainable Development: Impacts of Solar Home Systems in Rural Bangladesh, https://energypedia.info/wiki/File:Impact_of_Solar_Home_System_in_Rural_Bangladesh.pdf
- Water World Today: http://waterengnet.com/2011/social-and-environmental-impacts-of-hydropower/
- HEDON: http://www.hedon.info/Improvedcookstove and Barnes et al, 1993, RWEDP No:44
- Barman, M., Mahapatra, S., Palit, D. & Chaudhury, M., 2017. Performance and impact evaluation of solar home lighting systems on the rural livelihood in Assam, India. Energy for Sustainable Development, December, Issue 38, pp. 10-20.
- Benson, B., 2014. The Sustainable Eradication of Energy Poverty, s.l.: Lund University.