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Publications

Taxes and Subsidies and the Transition to Clean Cooking: A Review of Relevant Theoretical and Empirical Insights

Though many challenges impede low- and middle-income countries’ access to clean cooking energy, cost barriers are perhaps most significant. This report discusses the role of subsidy and tax policies—levied on both the supply and demand side of this market—in affecting progress toward universal access to clean cooking. Moreover, we show that a “fear of spoiling the market” with such incentives finds little empirical support in the literature. This report offers recommendations to policy makers, in additional to a case study on clean cooking transitions in Nepal.

Can Time-of-Use Tariffs Increase the Financial Viability of Mini-Grids?

Declining solar and battery costs and increased operational efficiency have helped expand community-scale mini-grids, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where they now meet the power needs of over 47 million people. However, mini-grid system economics must continue to improve to be a reliable power solution for the nearly 800 million people still lacking access. Time-of-use (ToU) tariffs could represent one piece of the solution. This policy brief develops a model to estimate the effects of a ToU tariff using data from Energicity, a solar mini-grid operator in Sierra Leone.

Climate Finance for Just Transitions

This paper investigates challenges in the international climate finance landscape through three issue areas: (1) aligning national climate strategies and international finance, (2) finding avenues for positive climate finance outcomes in an era of growing rivalry between Chinese and Group of Seven—particularly US—public financiers, and (3) reforming major climate finance practices and institutions to more effectively cater to the needs of LMIC stakeholders.

The Role of Taxes and Subsidies in the Clean Cooking Transition: A Review of Relevant Theoretical and Empirical Insights

Cost barriers are among the most significant challenges impeding progress toward use of clean cooking energy in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This brief discusses the role of subsidy and tax policies—levied on both the supply and demand side—in affecting progress toward universal access to clean cooking in LMICs. Also, combating a common myth among those opposing subsidies for clean cooking, the brief demonstrates that a “fear of spoiling the market” with such incentives finds little empirical support in the literature. Finally, the brief offers recommendations to policy makers. 

Improving Rural Livelihoods, Energy Access, and Resilience Where It’s Needed Most: The Case for Solar Mini-Grid Irrigation in Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s levels of agricultural productivity and energy access are among the lowest in the world. Now Ethiopia is moving forward with the new Distributed Renewable Energy-Agriculture Modalities (DREAM) project to test distributed solar mini-grids as a solution for improving irrigation, increasing agricultural productivity and farmer incomes, expanding rural electricity access, and enhancing gender and social inclusion. This policy brief summarizes the approach, along with findings of an economic viability analysis examining how the solar mini-grid irrigation projects are likely to impact farmers' incomes at nine unique sites in rural Ethiopia.

Utilizing Geospatial Data for Assessing Energy Security: Mapping Small Solar Home Systems Using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Deep Learning

Solar home systems (SHS), a cost-effective solution for rural communities far from the grid in developing countries, are small solar panels and associated equipment that provides power to a single household. A crucial resource for targeting further investment of public and private resources, as well as tracking the progress of universal electrification goals, is shared access to high-quality data on individual SHS installations including information such as location and power capacity.

Lessons for Modernizing Energy Access Finance, Part 2 – Balancing Competition and Subsidy: Assessing Mini-Grid Incentive Programs in Sub-Saharan Africa

This policy brief summarizes a review of 20 mini-grid incentive programs in sub-Saharan Africa, 17 of which are still being implemented. The programs analyzed primarily used one of two mechanisms to stimulate investment: auction programs and results-based financing (RBF) programs.

Business Model Innovations for Utility and Mini-Grid Integration: Insights from the Utilities 2.0 Initiative in Uganda

The historical context from which many African utilities have emerged has left a challenging legacy regarding the provision of energy service delivery to all. As rural electrification receives growing attention, a wave of decentralised renewable energy (DRE) technologies and business models are changing the energy service delivery landscape.

This Energy Insight focuses specifically on the opportunities for distribution utilities and mini-grid developers to collaborate.

Harnessing Data Analytics to Accelerate Energy Access: Reflections from a Duke-RTI Convening on Data for Development

One of the defining features of our current era is the proliferation of innovative technologies that constantly generate data and information. Earth observation satellites, ground-based tools such as vehicle-mounted cameras, smart meters, and crowd-sourced platforms all collect and gather data with applications for the energy sector.

Lessons for Modernizing Energy Access Finance, Part 1: What the Electrification Experiences of Seven Countries Tell Us about the Future of Connection Costs, Subsidies, and Integrated Planning

This brief explores the successful rural electrification experiences of seven case countries—Brazil, Chile, Laos, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Tunisia—looking specifically at the cost of connections and how subsidies and public financing were deployed to address the affordability challenge and facilitate energy access.