Rural electrification remains a critical development challenge in low-income countries, with roughly 1.3 billion people still living without reliable electricity. As conventional energy systems in the developing world rely heavily on fossil fuels, and traditional appliances utilize energy inefficiently, the promotion of more efficient appliances may help increase access to electricity for households while minimizing environmental costs. Still, accurately anticipating how increased adoption of energy efficient appliances will impact energy consumption is complicated by a “rebound effect” – the potential for households to increase their overall energy consumption in response to an improvement in appliance efficiency.
This project capitalizes on a randomized evaluation of innovative solar microgrids in India, along with novel electronic data collection methods, to address important questions related to energy efficiency. By combining real-time energy use data (captured by “smart meters”) with comprehensive household survey data, the research team will be able to infer which types of applications users are powering at different times, thus revealing how an improvement in lighting efficiency affects not only demand for lighting (i.e. “direct rebound”), but also demand for other end uses (such as cell phone charging or cooling).
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