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Title: Rural electrification policy and off grid solar : sector engagement strategies in India and beyond
Author: Plutshack, Victoria Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 8501 3280
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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1.1 billion people currently live without access to electricity. Sustainable Development Goal #7 advocates for clean, affordable energy for all by 2030, but most of the work of electrification is spurred by national electrification efforts. How rural electrification policies attempt to engage market actors, and the impact that these policies have on enterprises, is crucial to understanding what makes policies effective. This thesis begins by creating a typology of rural electrification policies in order to improve comparison and contextualisation of individual policies. Within this typology, the research explores the relationship between programmatic policies and market actors (enterprises). Given India's history of rural electrification programmes and its well-developed off grid solar market, the thesis then takes India as a case study and explores on two of its off grid solar programmes: the Decentralized Distributed Generation Scheme and the off grid component of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission. In depth interviews explore how enterprises' business models respond to policy change, their political strategy and how end users are selected. Findings suggest that enterprises respond quickly to changes in their policy environment, and a single change can have large knock-on effects within the business model. Political strategies are impacted by a number of factors both exogenous and endogenous to the enterprise, which can limit engagement with programmes. Finally, the target populations for rural electrification programmes are not necessarily the ideal customers for enterprises, even for those selling off grid products. While the interviews focus exclusively on India, these findings more generally suggest that governments must support the market that their policies require.
Supervisor: Vinuales, Jorge Sponsor: University of Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Rural electrification ; solar ; India ; energy ; business models