Solar Microgrids in a Newly Electrified India
This study set out to examine the relationship between government grid energy use and social well-being status among rural villages in India with access to a microgrid developed by Boond. Our research process began with a survey administered to 150 households across 8 villages in Northern India. Energy access of the government grid was measured using the World Bank’s multi-tier framework for energy access by surveying respondents about system capacity, availability, reliability, and safety. Social indicator measurements across economics, education, healthcare access, access to modern appliances and gender equity were also captured in the survey. Our group also conducted fieldwork in 4 of the surveyed villages to collect qualitative data in the form of focus group sessions to further evaluate energy consumption across microgrid and government grid sources. Although communities with government grid access now have greater energy capacity to power appliances, we found that social well-being is not constrained by energy capacity but rather household income. Providing greater electricity capacity will not improve social well-being on its own. Rural communities instead require a holistic approach to development that includes opportunities to increase household income.