Appliance Adoption in Recently Electrified Rural Indian Villages
by Meredith Fowlie (Department of agricultural and Resource Economics, UC Berkeley) and Catherine Wolfram (Berkeley Haas)
Nearly all of the growth in energy demand, fossil fuel use, associated local pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions is forecast to come from the developing world, yet we know very little about how energy is used in developing countries. The Berkeley professors doing this project are involved with a Berkeley-based startup, Gram Power, which provides solar power to rural villages in India using a smart microgrid technology that includes prepaid smart meters and grid monitoring devices. Because the provider is using smart meters and because and the team includes engineers, it is possible to analyze minute-by-minute electricity usage and infer the type of appliance the household is using at the time .The project will fund appliances (e.g., light bulbs) to the newly connected households. Households will be randomly selected to receive either a low efficiency version (e.g., compact fluorescent) or a high efficiency version (e.g., LED). The project will analyze households’ decisions about how much to use the different appliances. If households randomly selected to receive the high efficiency versions use them for more hours per week, this would be concrete, experimentally derived evidence of a rebound effect. Debates about how large the rebound effect is likely to be are central to policy discussions about the role of energy efficiency in mitigating climate change. To date, there is very little empirical evidence on the rebound effect, and none from the developing world. See the USAID report on this project.
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