Variation in rural household energy transitions for basic lighting in India

Elise Harrington, Ameya Athavankar, David Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Many rural households in India lack access to reliable energy services but off-grid solar technologies are able to meet basic lighting and electricity needs. The availability and perception of different technologies, appliances, and services influences how households will transition to renewable energy. To identify factors that affect household decisions among various energy sources, this paper examines purchase and use patterns for electricity sources and basic end-uses for twenty-two households in three rural villages in Jharkhand, India using a qualitative, card-based interview protocol. This paper examines energy stacking or the use of multiple fuel sources to meet household energy needs. Results indicate that households use multiple energy sources to meet basic lighting and charging needs, but these patterns vary across households. Adoption of lighting technologies were influenced by a range of factors, with pricing and payment options influencing 88% of solar lantern purchases and 75% of solar home system purchases. In contrast, decisions to connect to the solar microgrid were more heavily influenced by awareness of the technology. Retention of existing lighting options stems from three factors access or availability, capacity, and quality of new lighting additions – with capacity being the most commonly referenced across kerosene, solar lanterns, and solar home systems. This paper argues that different factors influence adoption and retention of household lighting sources with key interdependencies across sources resulting the need for new, or to retain existing, lighting options.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109568
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the Tata Center for Technology and Design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for its generous support of this project.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


  • Energy access
  • Energy stacking
  • Energy transition
  • Rural
  • Solar


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