Rural Electrification in India : customer behaviour and demand

Feb 01, 2019

Source/author : Rockfeller Foundation

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Executive Summary

India is at the cusp of energy transformation, leading the global progress in electricity access. Between 2000 and 2016, half a billion people gained access to electricity in India, increasing the share of grid-electrifed households from 43% to 82%. Since then, several new efforts are underway at central and state levels, with the goal of achieving universal household electrifcation by March 2019. While enabling access to electricity is a crucial frst step, the goal of extending the electric grid to India’s villages has eclipsed the need to provide quality access and service to the rural customers. Studies have pointed out that demand-side issues appear more signifcant in explaining the current gaps in electricity access. There is a need to better understand the factors that infuence customer attitudes and decisions about electricity adoption and use. Even more important is to assess whether the current levels of electricity access are satisfactory, as many customers with electricity continue to face power outages and poor-quality supply. These are concerns that need to be addressed to realize the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy to ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all.


About the Study


This report is a collaboration between Smart Power India (SPI), a subsidiary of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Initiative for Sustainable Energy Policy (ISEP), at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The report distils learnings on electricity access and customer demand. One of the unique contributions of this report is the insight on baseline electricity demand at a village level, including the use of electricity for productive purposes. The fndings in this report are based on primary data collected from customer surveys of over 10,000 rural households and 2,000 rural enterprises across four Indian states – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan. This report also provides insights into customer experiences under different electricity delivery models – public sector distribution companies (DISCOMs), solar mini-grids, and private distribution franchises.

Key Findings

Electricity Sources Used by Rural Customers

• Grid-electrifcation coverage and adoption is high among rural households with the electric grid emerging as the primary source of electricity and lighting for many.

• However, gaps are prevalent with the rural micro-enterprises. In the study area, only 65% of enterprises had grid-electricity connections. While the share of connected rural enterprises is over 90% in Odisha and Rajasthan, it is lower than 60% in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

• Non-grid sources such as solar home systems, rechargeable batteries, mini-grids, and diesel generators form an important part of the rural electricity mix. Sixteen percent of households and 40% of enterprises use non-grid sources.



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