Hippu Salk Kristle Nathan (National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore, India and London School of Economics), 19 May 2017:

Rural lighting through Solar PV – A supply-side analysis of home lighting systems in Karnataka, India

Rural areas in India face something of an electricity crisis. Approximately one-third of rural households don't have an electricity connection and long hours of load-shedding are typical of Indian villages. Solar PV can potentially come to the rescue of scores of such households who are not grid-electrified (including those who are not grid-electrifiable) and who are supplied with meager electricity. However, solar PV electricity is costlier than the conventional grid option, which might explain why even rich urban settings do not use solar. Despite their generally lower capacity to pay some rural homes end up deploying solar PV systems, thanks to government subsidies. But, whether these subsidies are accompanied with complete ecosystem for sustenance of solar PV in rural areas is a question mark.

This paper undertakes a comprehensive analysis of the supply side issues in of home lighting systems in Karnataka. There are essentially three routes through which these systems are delivered — through financial institutions, through government schemes, or direct delivery to the customers. The study captures variations in terms of operational models, technology/make, and maintenance regimes. Through stakeholder interviews, the study identifies the factors responsible for sustainability of solar home lighting systems. The paper concludes with policy insights ranging over the entire supply chain.