Why Renewable Energy Projects Fail? Design and Implementation of Energy Assistance Projects in Cambodia and Lao PDR (DREAM)

Energy demand is rapidly growing in many developing countries, and energy is widely recognised as a cross-cutting theme contributing to the achievement of all Millennium Development Goals. The energy decisions made today will have long-ranging consequences, in terms of investments and the impact on society and on global climate. Understanding of linkages between energy and the three pillars of sustainable development has increased the bilateral and multilateral donors’ interest in renewable energy. The success of renewable energy projects has been variable. Significant part of the implemented energy systems has not been economically, socially or environmentally sustainable after the project funding and maintenance has ended. 


The DREAM project aims to improve understanding of reasons why energy projects often fail, and seeks to offer means to develop the planning and implementation of future renewable energy projects. The overall aim is to help the transition towards increasing sustainable use of renewable energy in the developing countries. It also develops a multi-disciplinary methodology needed for assessing the impacts of the projects and designing environmentally benign projects that would generate continued benefits for the communities.

The objective of this project is to (i) develop multi-disciplinary methodology to analyse renewable energy project design, implementation, finance, and their influence on communities; (ii) build up knowledge on the various positive and negative impacts that the renewable energy projects can have especially at the village level; (iii) improve understanding of qualifications (success factors and reasons for failures) of renewable energy projects; (iv) identify concrete means to increase long term sustainability of donor-driven energy projects.


The research is done by comparative case study analysis of eight donor-driven renewable energy projects implemented in Cambodia and Lao PDR. The research material consists of project documents, interviews, and ethnographic methods used at the case study villages. Integrated impact assessment framework will be used and developed in order to give emphasis to the cross-sectoral impacts of energy decisions, and long time scale related to the energy systems.






 ​Further information:


Jyrki Luukkanen
Mira Käkönen
Hanna Kaisti

Finland Futures Research Centre


The Mekong research group of the Finland Futures Research Centre.