The goal of this periodic blog (EfD) is to promote information exchange on access to quality energy services in developing countries including renewable, modern, biomass and household energy.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Electric Power for Rural Growth, 2nd Edition.
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for Amazon "Look Inside"

I recently published a new book on the impact of rural electrification in developing countries. Actually it is a revision of an old book. This is the second edition of my first book Electric Power for Rural Growth, published in 1988 based on research during my first job at Resources for the Future. At the time, international donors were having serious doubt about the benefits of rural electrification for developing countries.

To see a description of the book on this site, click on this link.

This entirely new production of the original book offers important historical information on the state of rural electrification in the 1980s. I have updated the text and titles, and the tables and charts have been revised for clarity. Some material that is no longer relevant has been omitted. I also have added a new chapter that summarizes the development of benefit evaluation methods, along with findings from recent research on the impact of rural electrification for development.

Overall, the issues identified in the 1980s remain extremely relevant today in the context of the new international emphasis on providing modern energy access for all. This includes its social impact and the productive use of electricity for agriculture and small business development. The main countries covered include India, Indonesia and Colombia. Many of the lessons learned from this study have been lost, especially with today's emphasis of providing electricity to those remaining people without service. Although this is a very important, the complementary conditions for rural electrification also should not be forgotten in the rush to provide "electricity for all."

Since the original writing of this book, the development impact of grid electricity on rural households has been the subject of a significant amount of research. I am glad to report that the findings of this early study have been validated for the most part.

Further research still is necessary on subjects like the impact of solar home systems or small lighting systems on socioeconomic development. It is well-known that certain activities cannot be accomplished by relying on the low power levels available through solar home or smaller photovoltaic systems. The question is whether this matters or should such technologies be considered “pre-electrification”—important in their own right but awaiting further expansion of grid electricity systems. These important new questions can only be answered by new research.

In the meantime, I offer this second edition of my impact study of rural electrification. The purposes of this book are to inform the issues in the public policy debate, advance empirical knowledge about the major issues and reach conclusions on the efficacy of various ways to implement rural electrification for development. In the context of new initiatives to promote the expansion of both grid and offgrid electrification, this study with its emphasis on the importance of complementary conditions is probably more important today even than it was over 20 years ago.

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