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About Douglas F. Barnes
Douglas Barnes is an infrastructure sociologist who with a strong background in economics. He has been involved in rural energy, household energy and international development issues for the last 30 years. First at Resources for the Future and later at the World Bank he worked on issues of energy, environment and equity in many different developing countries, and has continually been involved in the development and implementation of innovative household surveys. His books and papers have changed the way international agencies have developed programs for rural electrification, renewable energy, biomass stoves and household energy. He won several honors at the World Bank and in 2012 received the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award.
This Second Edition is entirely rewritten. The book is faithful to the original household surveys from India, Colombia and Indonesia, but has a brand new chapter summarizing current research and tracing the development of benefit evaluation techniques over three decades. With the new international mandate to provide Sustainable Energy for All, Electric Power for Rural growth is perhaps more important today than when it was first published several decades ago.
Achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 is not financially prohibitive for India. The challenge of providing electricity for all is achievable, ensuring that India joins such countries as China and Brazil in reaching out to even its remotest populations. The estimated annual investments necessary to reach universal access are in the range of Rs. 108 billion (US$2.4 billion) to Rs. 139 billion (US$3 billion). Considering that the country already spends about Rs. 45 billion ($1 billion) a year on new electricity lines through the current government program, the additional investments needed to achieve universal access by 2030 are quite reasonable. Investments are not the only hurdle to providing electricity to those presently without service. Policies will need to be aligned with the principles followed in other successful international programs.
The potential benefits of electrification for those without service are quite high. The benefits of lighting alone would approximately equal the investments necessary to extend electricity for all. When households that adopt electricity switch from kerosene lamps to electric light bulbs, they experience an enormous price drop for lighting energy and can have more light for a range of household activities, including reading, studying, cooking, and socializing. Households with electricity consume more than 100 times as much light as households with kerosene for about the same amount of money. The potential value of the additional lighting can be as large as 11.5 percent of a typical households monthly budget. If universal access is achieved by 2030, the cumulative benefit for improved lighting alone would equal about Rs. 3.8 trillion (US$69 billion) or Rs. 190 billion ($3.4 billion) in annual benefits. This is greater than the cost of providing electricity service, and does not even include such benefits as improved communications, household comfort, food preservation, and income from productive activities. With electric lighting, households can generate more income, and children can have better educational outcomes and income-earning potential. Without quality energy services, households often face entrenched poverty, poor delivery of social services, and limited opportunities for women and girls.