Welfare benefits of decentralized Solar energy for the rural poor

Last registered on May 15, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Welfare benefits of decentralized Solar energy for the rural poor
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0000132
Initial registration date
June 06, 2014
Last updated
May 15, 2020, 8:57 AM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Yale University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
PI Affiliation
J-PAL South Asia at IFMR
PI Affiliation
London School of Economics

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2013-09-01
End date
2017-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Around the world, 1.3 billion people have no access to electricity, including around 400 million Indians, most of whom live in rural areas. Evidence on the welfare benefits of electricity access is critical for devising rational energy and climate policies. At the same time, the electricity sectors in developing countries are woefully inefficient, and their rapid growth 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.

The experimental design will offer solar micro-grid connections to households in areas with limited or no electricity access in rural North-West Bihar. The experiment allots 100 sample villages into one of three experimental treatment arms: solar micro-grid service at the prevailing price of INR 200 per month, solar micro-grid service at a subsidized price of INR 100 per month, and a control arm with no offer of service. There are two main research aims. First, by making offers of electricity service at different prices and measuring take-up, to measure how much people value solar electricity. The value of solar will be compared to substitute energy sources such as decentralized electricity generated with diesel fuel. Second, by collecting data on economic and social outcomes, to compare newly connected villages to those without electricity and estimate the welfare benefits of access to electricity for poor rural households. Economic and social outcomes include electricity access, energy expenditures, time use and income, as well as potential indirect benefits of electricity use such as reading comprehension and informedness through information technology.


External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Burgess, Robin et al. 2020. "Welfare benefits of decentralized Solar energy for the rural poor." AEA RCT Registry. May 15. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.132-1.1
Former Citation
Burgess, Robin et al. 2020. "Welfare benefits of decentralized Solar energy for the rural poor." AEA RCT Registry. May 15. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/132/history/68408
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
The experiment allots 100 sample villages into one of three experimental treatment arms: solar micro-grid service at the prevailing price of INR 200 per month, solar micro-grid service at a subsidized price of INR 100 per month, and a control arm with no offer of service.
Intervention Start Date
2013-12-15
Intervention End Date
2016-06-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Price elasticity of electricity demand, Electricity and energy expenditures.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Health (Cough), Education (Schooling, Reading Comprehension), Use of mobile phones for micro-enterprise activity, Time-use patterns.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experimental sample consists of potential solar customers, living in villages with high potential for solar expansion based on their locations and low current electricity penetration. The first experimental procedure includes a survey of energy sources in potential villages and whether households are interested in solar and their willingness to pay. This will be followed by a baseline survey of randomly selected households to measure energy use and socio-economic conditions before the project starts. The survey has twelve modules covering demography, education, health, livelihood patterns, electricity usage, household income, mobile phone usage for business activity, and expenditure and willingness to pay for electricity.

In that experimental sample, villages will then be assigned with equal probability to one of three treatment conditions:

1. Connection Treatment. All potential customers in a village are offered a connection to a solar micro-grid at the rate of Rs. 200 per month.

2. Connection + Subsidy Treatment. All potential customers in a village are offered a connection to a solar micro-grid at the discounted rate of Rs. 100 per month, valid for the first 12 months.

3. Control. No solar micro-grid connections are offered in the village for a minimum of 18 months.

In the next phase, solar micro-grids will be installed and maintained for those households taking up the offer. We expect that take-up will be higher at the subsidised price of Rs. 100 per month than the existing price of Rs. 200. A micro-grid connects between 6-12 households to one solar panel array.

An endline survey will be conducted using the same survey instrument as at baseline and the first households in treatment villages get connections.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Random assignment of villages to the three treatment arms was performed in Stata. Code for random selection of households from villages for surveying was also run in Stata.
Randomization Unit
Village
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
100 villages
Sample size: planned number of observations
3069 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
33 Normal price villages (Rs 200)
33 Subsidy villages (Rs 100)
34 Control villages
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Institute for Financial Management and Research
IRB Approval Date
2013-09-01
IRB Approval Number
IRB00007107; FWA00014616; IORG0005894

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials