Challenging traditional logics of energy planning: a Capability Approach analysis of a Grassroots Innovation in the Ecuadorian Amazon

María Ten Palomares
Small-scale renewable energy technologies can be Grassroots Innovations (GI) towards sustainable development. But developing grassroots initiatives is not an easy process. Through the lens of the Capability Approach, we look at an energy-based experience in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Under this approach, and conceiving GI as processes where peoples’ real options expand, we explore the social, environmental and personal conversion factors that are limiting the development of GI in the Ecuadorian energy field. The study reveals that energy-based GI initiatives in Ecuador are constrained by power relationships between local and national energy actors, complex geographical conditions of the rural communities and the specific skills need it to lead the initiatives. We discuss the limitations of alternative ways of doing energy planning oriented to challenge traditional logics of energy, territory and society relationships.