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The user-value of rural electrification: An analysis and adoption of existing models and theories


  • Hirmer, Stephanie
  • Cruickshank, Heather


User-value is a determining factor for product acceptance in product design. Research on rural electrification to date, however, does not draw sufficient attention to the importance of user-value with regard to the overall success of a project. This is evident from the analysis of project reports and applicable indicators from agencies active in the sector. Learning from the design, psychology and sociology literatures, it is important that rural electrification projects incorporate the value perception of the end-user and extend their success beyond the commonly used criteria of financial value, the appropriateness of the technology, capacity building and technology uptake. Creating value for the end-user is particularly important for project acceptance and the sustainability of a scheme once it has been handed over to the local community. In this research paper, existing theories and models of value-theory are transposed and applied to community operated rural electrification schemes and a user-value framework is developed. Furthermore, the importance of value to the end-user is clarified. Current literature on product design reveals that user-value has different properties, many of which are applicable to rural electrification. Five value pillars and their sub-categories important for the users of rural electrification projects are identified, namely: functional; social significance; epistemic; emotional; and cultural values. These pillars provide the main structure for the conceptual framework developed in this research paper. It is proposed that by targeting the values of the end-user, the key factors of user-value applicable to rural electrification projects will be identified and the sustainability of the project will be better ensured.

Suggested Citation

  • Hirmer, Stephanie & Cruickshank, Heather, 2014. "The user-value of rural electrification: An analysis and adoption of existing models and theories," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 145-154.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:rensus:v:34:y:2014:i:c:p:145-154
    DOI: 10.1016/j.rser.2014.03.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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