SURE-DSS The SURE–Decision Support System
Expanding access to clean energy in rural areas of developing countries is not only about delivering modern technology. It is principally about selecting the most appropriate technology and guaranteeing that such provisions blend well with both existing resources and prospective users’ priorities while also having a durable positive impact on livelihoods. The SURE–Decision Support System (DSS), developed by Imperial College London, is one of the only tools currently available to predict the multiple effects on environmental, social and financial aspects future energy installations in poor rural communities.
The tool is the outcome of six years of research, system and computing work by the DFID
awarded project Renewable Energy for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (RESURL, 2001-2006), with the active participation of institutions in Colombia, Cuba and Peru under the leadership of Imperial College London.
The SURE-DSS Tool has already gained wide interest and official approval from ministries in developing countries, as well as provoking interest among practitioners, and government who understand it to be particularly relevant to their everyday challenges of environmental protection and poverty reduction.
The tool seeks to define the optimal energy solutions for rural communities that are often under severe resource constrains, and uses a balanced combination of highly technical information, non-technical criteria, and relevant participatory data.
The tool facilitates the planning of energy infrastructure for small communities, enabling the priorities of the users to be considered. The mathematical system has been rigorously designed to be used in rural communities anywhere in the world, and produces a simple, useful graphical representation of the most suitable outputs.
- The SURE tool is specifically designed for low income communities
- The SURE tool pre-selects the solutions according to their contribution to livelihoods enhancement
- In comparison most other DSS Tools are optimized and designed on the basis of financial and technical inputs alone.
On Wednesday 22nd April 2009, Imperial College together with the Koru Foundation, hosted a seminar to introduce the tool to a wider audience of organisations actively involved in implementing poverty reduction Renewable Energy projects on the ground. The seminar gave the research team an opportunity to introduce the tool to a larger audience as well as give an update on the recent SURE-DSS project in Cuba, Colombia and Peru, which was funded by the Koru Foundation. The following organisations attended the seminar: The Koru Foundation, Eco Ltd, Plan-UK, WWF, IIED, Unicef, DFID, CAT, MIT and GVEP.
SURE-DSS Team Leader
Dr Judith A. Cherni
, Senior Research Lecturer, Imperial College
Development of the SURE-DSS Tool
Although the application of the SURE-DSS Tool requires a receptive political environment, it is a tool that develops and specializes as a consequence of its use. Although the tool includes technical and financial factors the main focus is primarily on livelihoods and environmental protection. To ensure that a final solution has been obtained the Tool will always require the participation of appropriate policy-makers.
Current Project – Cuba, Colombia and Peru
Currently the SURE-DSS Tool team are working on implementing a project in Cuba, Colombia and Peru to ensure that it is well adapted to local communities. The project will ensure a significant gain in regards to acquired knowledge and information on the use of new energy technologies and the protection of the natural environment in poor rural areas, as well as a significant capacity building of future technology users which will enable proper operation and maintenance of the energy generation equipment. The project will expand knowledge on the scope of the technology to generate additional income for local users, and the development of a teaching and training methodology to ensure that SURE can be replicated elsewhere.
The Koru Foundation is working closely with Imperial College London to try and disseminate the SURE Tool more widely. They have already funded the dissemination of the tool in Cuba, Colombia and Peru and are working on developing a new project to introduce the tool to a community in north-west Tanzania.