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Ashok Kotwal
On demonetisation
Posted on: 23 Dec 2016
On the evening of 8 November, the Prime Minister announced on national television that Rs. ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The GDP conundrum
Posted on: 16 Nov 2016
Ever since India’s Central Statistical Organisation came out with the new GDP series with ... read on »
Introduction to e-Symposium: The idea of a universal basic income in the Indian context
Posted on: 26 Sep 2016
The idea of an unconditional basic income given to all citizens by the State, has caught o ... read on »
Debate: The Aadhaar Bill
Posted on: 02 May 2016
In a debate on the Aadhaar Bill, commentators from academia and civil society will ... read on »

Tag: electricity

Off-grid solar power and the future of rural electrification in India
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Jul 2017
Topics:   Environment


Off-grid solar power is a potential alternative to grid extension in rural electrification. This column reports results from a recent experiment with an off-grid lighting intervention in Uttar Pradesh. While little evidence of broader socioeconomic changes was found, the study suggests that kerosene subsidies likely hold back the expansion of off-grid solar markets, and that there are many ways in which benefits of off-grid solar power can be enhanced.
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Rural electrification in India: Focus on service quality
Karthik Ganesan , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18 Jan 2017
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


India has set an ambitious goal of achieving high-quality electricity supply for all households by 2019, and impressive progress has been made in increasing the number of household electricity connections. However, this column finds that the quality of electricity service to rural households is dismal and this is considered to be a major problem by rural households. There is a need for rationalising rural electricity tariffs to ensure cost recovery in exchange of improved service quality.
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How do electricity shortages affect industry in India?
Hunt Allcott , Allan Collard-Wexler , Stephen D O'Connell
Posted on: 25 Nov 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


Poor electricity supply is widely recognised as a key impediment to firm growth and productivity. This column finds that average reported level of electricity shortages in India reduces annual plant revenues and producer surplus of the average manufacturing plant by 5-10%. While productivity losses are smaller, shortages distort plant size distribution due to significant economies of scale in generator costs.
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Solar micro-grids in India: A reality check
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 01 Nov 2016

Much of India’s strategy to reduce the use of fossil fuels relies on a transition to solar energy. Based on a survey of potential solar micro-grid customers in Bihar, this column highlights the challenges associated with solar electricity becoming a sustainable and scalable solution, and the need for a new approach.
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Fast breeder reactors and the slow progress of India’s nuclear programme
M.V. Ramana
Posted on: 16 Aug 2016

Breeder reactors have always underpinned the claims of India’s Department of Atomic Energy about generating large quantities of electricity. The first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor was expected to start sustaining a chain reaction back in 2010, but the reactor is massively delayed, taking more than twice the expected period. In this article, M.V. Ramana, a physicist at Princeton University, outlines the history of missed targets and contends that these reactors are best regarded as failed technology, in India and elsewhere.
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Case for electric vehicles through cleaner grid supply
Mudit Chordia
Posted on: 18 May 2016

The Indian government recently announced its plan to make India a 100% electric vehicle nation by 2030. In this article, Mudit Chordia, a Consultant at the University of Chicago Urban Labs, discusses the viability of such a plan in the Indian context.
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Cheaper, cleaner, more reliable: Why invest in cross-border power-trading
Deb Chattopadhyay , P. N. Fernando , Priyantha DC Wijayatunga
Posted on: 07 Mar 2016

Despite improvements to energy supply over the years, many Indian states still face frequent power shortages. Meanwhile, neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan have large reserves of untapped hydropower with the potential to meet unserved demand for energy in major load centres. Investing in interconnections could also contribute to significant reductions in carbon emissions. This column quantifies potential gains from an integrated South Asian power.
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Access to energy in rural India: A survey of six states
Chao-yo Cheng , Abhishek Jain , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 18 Jan 2016
Topics:   Infrastructure


While access to energy is crucial for socioeconomic development, statistically representative surveys on the issue are missing in India. Based on a survey on energy access in six energy-poor states in north India, this column finds that although domestic electricity connections in rural areas have increased rapidly, quality of supply remains poor. In terms of clean cooking fuels, people strongly prefer LPG but poor availability and high upfront costs of connections limit access.
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India’s energy efficiency
Ejaz Ghani , Arti Grover Goswami , William Kerr
Posted on: 10 Nov 2015

India is the fourth largest energy consumer in the world but is not well endowed with energy resources, making efficiency in energy use very important. This column analyses the spatial dynamics of electricity usage in India’s manufacturing sector. Such an understanding can help in defining a more focused and targeted energy policy.
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Political distortions in the Indian electricity sector
Thushyanthan Baskaran , Brian Min , Yogesh Uppal
Posted on: 03 Aug 2015

While political interference is believed to be a major problem plaguing the electricity sector in India, there is little empirical evidence on the existence of political distortions or on their economic costs. This column demonstrates that Indian state governments increase the supply of electricity to constituencies that have bye-elections by diverting electricity away from non-election constituencies.
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How development affects climate sensitivity of electricity demand in India
Eshita Gupta
Posted on: 20 May 2015

The annual average temperature in India in 2009 was about 0.91°C above the average temperature recorded during the 1961-1990 period. This column analyses the impact of daily weather as well as long-term climate change on electricity demand in India, and how income growth influences this relationship. It shows that the marginal effect of hotter climate on electricity demand is greater when incomes are higher.
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Can solar micro-grids deliver basic electricity access in Indian villages?
Michaёl Aklin , Patrick Bayer , S.P. Harish , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 17 Apr 2015

About one-third of India´s population remains without access to basic electricity services. This column discusses preliminary lessons from an experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that seeks to set up solar micro-grids in unelectrified habitations. It finds that while the cost of solar power is a potential obstacle to its adoption, the technology does generate substantial benefits in the form of improved lighting and reduced kerosene expenditures.
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Harnessing India’s wind power potential
Deepthi Swamy
Posted on: 09 Mar 2015

While India’s wind power sector has progressed significantly in the past decade, only about 22% of its potential has been harnessed so far. In this article, Deepthi Swamy - who was part of a team that worked with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to develop a framework for the National Wind Energy Mission - discusses the issues faced by the sector, need for a mission-mode approach, and the proposed contours for such a mission.
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‘Cry, the Beloved Country’: Mending Punjab’s economy
Nirvikar Singh
Posted on: 11 Feb 2015

The growth rate of Punjab, which once ranked among India’s most affluent states, is slowing. In this article, Nirvikar Singh, who holds the Sarbjit Singh Aurora Chair of Sikh and Punjabi Studies at University of California Santa Cruz, diagnoses key issues with the Punjab economy and provides his perspective on what it would take to mend it.
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Solar power for street vendors? Lessons from an experiment in Bihar
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 06 Feb 2015

Rapid urbanisation in developing countries is aggravating the issue of insufficient access to energy for basic needs such as lighting. This column discusses lessons from an experiment in Bihar wherein street vendors were provided solar-powered lights, the batteries of which were charged at centralised stations installed in urban marketplaces. Based on problems encountered in terms of the mode and cost of operation, it suggests that the provision of electric grid connections, with stand-alone solar lights as backup, may be a better approach.
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India´s power sector reforms: Who reaped the benefits?
David Szakonyi , Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 02 May 2014
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


The cornerstone of India´s power sector reforms is the 2003 National Electricity Act that limited state intervention in the power sector. This column analyses the effects of the Act on Indian manufacturing firms. It finds that political clout of firms played a key role in the distribution of gains from the reforms in terms of improved electricity supply.
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Can a clean energy agenda take off in Delhi?
Marie-Hélène Zérah
Posted on: 19 Mar 2014
Topics:   Environment


Energy transition in cities, through energy conservation measures and increased reliance on renewable energy, has become a key focus of climate change policies. This column outlines the clean energy agenda of the power sector in Delhi, and discusses the endorsement of or resistance to the agenda by public institutions, power distribution companies and users of electricity.
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Proposing a solution for Indo-US ‘solar wars’
Saptak Ghosh
Posted on: 28 Feb 2014

India’s national solar programme mandates the use of domestically manufactured components in solar power installations in the country. The US has filed a WTO case against India, alleging that the policy discriminates against US exports. This column proposes a solution that would address the concerns of US as well as create a domestic market for solar products produced in India.
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Does the quality of electricity matter?
Ujjayant Chakravorty , Martino Pelli
Posted on: 10 Feb 2014
Topics:   Infrastructure
Tags:   electricity


India is home to almost a quarter of the world population that does not have access to electricity. This column estimates the impact of increased access to and improved quality of electricity on incomes in rural India. It suggests that merely providing grid connections does not enable full realisation of the potential benefits of electricity; high quality power supply is at least as important.
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In pursuit of low-carbon electricity
Ashwini Kumar Swain
Posted on: 06 Sep 2013
Topics:   Environment


The policy debate on low-carbon energy often tends to focus solely on setting targets. This column argues that the State’s capacity to meet targets and the strategies followed to build the required capacity are equally important. Meeting the targets requires creative manoeuvres such as involving and incentivising market players to participate.
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Is there public support for higher electricity prices in India?
Johannes Urpelainen
Posted on: 23 Aug 2013
Topics:   Infrastructure


Even though India´s power sector does not generate enough electricity to meet the rapidly growing demand, policymakers hesitate to increase tariffs due to popular opposition. This column discusses results from a survey experiment in rural Uttar Pradesh that shows that providing people with information about the relationship between low electricity tariffs and inadequate generation has a significantly positive effect on public support for higher prices. However, privatisation is unpopular, as people have a strong preference for state control of the power sector.
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Electricity demand in urban Indian households: Influencing consumer behaviour
Anant Sudarshan
Posted on: 08 Apr 2013
Tags:   electricity


The huge and fast growing urban middle class of India uses a significant amount of electricity at their homes. This column argues that there is a need to focus on managing demand of electricity, and demonstrates how social norms can be used to encourage households to consume less electricity.
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