Small off-grid electricity systems are growing rapidly in South Asia. A new study, The Effects of Small Scale Electricity Systems on Rural Communities in South Asia, provides the first assessment of how these systems are impacting communities in the region.
Previous research has shown multiple benefits of electricity access for education, livelihoods, and health. However, small-scale systems—which are often set up in an ad-hoc way in remote areas outside the purview of regulators—have not previously been systematically studied. Off-grid systems can include a wide variety of energy sources, from a simple diesel generator, a solar-powered home system sold by entrepreneurs, or a biomass-based micro grid.
The report, conducted with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), is based on a household survey and qualitative interviews with small business owners in three districts, one in Nepal and two in the state of Bihar, India.
This study takes the first step in highlighting the multidimensional nature of energy access questions, an important input as the global development community works toward the new UN Sustainable Development Goals, which include energy access for all by 2030.