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Governance of Solar Photovoltaic Off-Grid Technologies in Rural Andhra Pradesh: Some implications from the field

In developing countries like India, uncontrolled urbanisation and rapid economic development has put extreme pressure on electricity infrastructure and generation. In the emerging megacity of Hyderabad, the capital of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (AP), households, commerce, and industry suffer from frequent power cuts and low power quality. Consumers use inefficient and environmentally-unfriendly back-up systems, such as diesel generators, to cope with the crisis. Part of the problem in AP is the high consumption of electricity by farmers who receive electricity at a subsidised flat-rate tariff. About 30% of the installed capacity is utilised by electric irrigation pumps. In South Asia, the introduction of electricity for groundwater irrigation has greatly contributed to rural poverty alleviation and a more equitable access to irrigation. This often comes, though, at the cost of urban centres and industries. Nonetheless, villages also face major problems with their electricity supply. Most rural and agricultural consumers in AP experience power rationing, high voltage fluctuations, a lack of three-phase supply for domestic use,1 and deficient connected load. Electricity for irrigation is rationed, with farmers receiving power for about three to seven hours per day and with frequent, unannounced interruptions. Farmers rely increasingly on irrigation due to erratic monsoon rainfalls and enduring periods of extremely hot days. Especially in rice cultivation, power cuts can cause crop failure with implications for food security in cities.