Robert J. Van Der Plas
Robert J. VAN DER PLAS is a Rural and Renewable Energy Specialist currently working as a Director of Studies at MARGE, Marchéage et Gestion de l’Environnement. A Dutch National, he is a member of the International Association for Energy Economics as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is also a Peer reviewer of professional publications that include the Journal of Energy Policy, Journal for Environmental Management, Journal of Ecological Economics and World Bank publications.
More than 20 years of developing country experience in the fields of:
Africa (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, DRC, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Seychelles, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe), Asia & Pacific (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Thailand), Latin America (Haiti, Jamaica).
Selected Experiences in Social and Economic Research
In the past 3-4 years, major socio-economic analytical work was undertaken in Cameroon, Mongolia, Rwanda, and more focused research work in Fiji, Liberia and Namibia. The work in Cameroon addressed barriers and opportunities for rural households to connect to a local electricity network. In Mongolia, the attitude of the population living in tents in the capital of Mongolia was researched with a view to adopting measures to reduce air pollution stemming from the heating with coal. In these three countries, survey instruments were designed, and the survey realization was supervised, and results analyzed. The work in Rwanda dealt with farmers and their attitude towards planting and using more trees for energy purposes, to identify how trees fit in their farm activities. Other survey work addressed rural energy consumption patterns, and identify ways to increase their access to more modern energy. Finally, much work went into identifying constraints to privately owned or managed micro hydro plants.
In Fiji the feasibility of a larger biomass-based electricity generation was researched and social constraints among stakeholders and the population in general needed to be identified. In Liberia the social constraints and opportunities for a better organized biomass supply chain were identified. In Namibia, a mid-term review was carried out to identify and overcome the main stakeholders’ reservations about the proposed village–based solar electrification project.
Finally, a longer time ago, in 2002-2004, a rural biomass energy strategy was developed in Ethiopia. Socio-economic research was part and parcel of the activity, as reasons for not willing to plant or manage trees was an important constraint that had to be addressed.