Access to electricity is critical to encouraging growth and reducing poverty. Around the world, 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, including 300 million Indian citizens, most of whom live in rural areas. At the same time, the rapid growth of the electricity sector in India will not be sustainable if it relies on burning ever more fossil fuels. Small, decentralized energy projects will therefore play an important role in providing universal access and may reduce the carbon-intensity of electricity load growth.
Solar energy is gaining a lot of traction in the rural market in India, particularly with the falling prices of inputs. In comparison with the electric grid, solar energy has lower capital costs, can easily be extended to remote rural areas and will reduce carbon emissions of the electricity generation sector. However, the appliances offered by solar energy are limited, and maintenance of the equipment is costly and logistically challenging, particularly in remote areas. In this context, JPAL-South Asia is conducting a randomized control trial in collaboration with Husk Power Systems (HPS) on the demand and welfare benefits of solar energy amongst households in rural Bihar.
This seminar brought together various stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss the future of solar energy vis-à-vis the electric grid, as well present preliminary results from JPAL-SA’s household survey of rural energy demand and electricity access.