The investigation summarised in this paper applied a sustainability assessment methodology on a renewable energy technological system in a rural village project that was commissioned by the South African Department of Minerals and Energy. The project comprised of wind, solar and lead-acid battery energy storage technologies that were implemented as a mini-hybrid off-grid electrification system for the village. The sustainability assessment methodology predicts the outcomes of such interventions by way of a learning model using discipline experts in the fields of economics, sociology, ecosystem sustainability, institutional governance, and the physics and chemistry of energy conversion processes. The comparison of the project’s outcomes with a South African sustainable development framework shows that the specific village renewable off-grid electrification system is not viable. The main reason is that charges for electricity supply costs in village grids are too high for available subsidies; the economies
of scale for renewable energy supply technologies favour national grids. The failure of the integrated system may also be attributable to the complexity of the social-institutional sub-system, which resulted in uncertainty for project planners and system designers, and the lack of resilience of the technological system to demands from the socio-economic and institutional sub-systems. Policy-related recommendations are made accordingly.