Rural energy poverty is increasingly recognized as a major obstacle to sustainable economic development. The United Nations Sustainable Energy for All initiative has played an important role in the international policy effort, and, to the delight of many social scientists, Sustainable Development Goal #7 reads “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”. The reality, however, remains that one-fifth of the world population does not have electricity at home and almost one-half of the same population uses traditional biomass for cooking.

In collaboration with Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), an ultra-productive and influential research institution located in New Delhi, I and two other academics (Michaël Aklin,Chao-yo Cheng) have recently finished a major data collection effort. We surveyed 8,568 households across six large states of north India for access to electricity and modern cooking fuels, subjective perceptions of the situation, and policy preferences. The study was funded by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and the fieldwork done by Morsel India. What a great experience! The study offers a comprehensive analysis of the rural energy access situation across the states and can be read here in full:

The study has received attention at the highest levels of government in India. Here the energy minister of India, Piyush Goyal, launches the study with the (CEEW) team lead by Abhishek Jain:


To our understanding, it is the most comprehensive energy access survey out there.

And the best part? On August 1, 2016, the entire dataset will be freely available for anyone to use. A clean, ready-to-use dataset with full documentation will be made easily available on a website.

PS. Watch out for academic output, too — we have a series of (pretty awesome, I think) research papers in the works, and we hope to launch the first batch soon!