Research Consultant: SmartPower Mini-grids Project


Project Description

In India, where there are more households without electricity access than any other country, the government has spent significantly on electrification programs over the past few decades. Yet progress is mixed. Many households still lack access, even in areas nominally served by the electric grid. Many other households that have recently gained access may not receive the quality of service that is required to see improvements in their lives. As a result, a new group of private companies are filling the gap with off-grid solutions. Solar mini-grids boast growth benefits as well as reduced environmental impact, yet their actual impacts are difficult to quantify, and they also face significant growth challenges.

In partnership with the largest network of mini-grid developers in the country, our project seeks to answer two separate questions: what is the demand for reliable solar mini-grid power in India, and what are the impacts of solar microgrids in India? To answer the first question, we will experimentally vary price/capacity offers for hours of reliable mini-grid electricity supply and offers for energy-efficient appliances.  We will examine differences in mean take-up, appliance ownership, and appliance utilization across treatment groups to estimate the demand for solar mini-grid energy at various price/capacity bundles. To address the second, we will use a regression discontinuity design to inexpensively examine the outcomes for sites just above the unit economics modelling cut-off (that were selected for mini-grid development) and sites that were just below (that were not selected).

The Principal Investigators on the Project are Professor Michael Greenstone, Professor Anant Sudarshan, and Jenna Allard. All are based out of the University of Chicago. The Research Consultant position will be funded through the Tata Center for Development, and will be based out of Delhi.

Research Consultant Roles and Responsibilities

o   The Research Consultant will be responsible for liaising directly with SmartPower India and its ESCo partners over the course of the project, to ensure that data is shared in a timely fashion. They will communicate with Principal Investigators primarily via phone and email.

o   The Research Consultant will also be responsible to making periodic field visits, primarily in rural areas in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They will hire, train, and oversee a team of field monitors whom will oversee marketing implementation in all mini-grid clusters. They will also manage baseline and endline survey data collection by an external survey firm, and work on qualitative scoping for future phases of the project.

o   In addition, the Research will assist the Principal Investigators with data cleaning and data analysis tasks, using R or Stata. They may also assist in drafting grant and stakeholder reports. Good data management practices are required, and experience with Python or GIS software is a plus.


About the Tata Center for Development (TCD)

Based at the University of Chicago Trust in India, the TCD works to identify novel solutions to India’s most pressing development challenges and to ensure that these ideas are translated into outcomes that improve people’s lives. We do this using a unique approach that harnesses rigorous, evidence-based insights from UChicago economics research combined with strategic outreach and partnership with government, industry, and innovators. Representing the joint work of the Tata Trusts and the University of Chicago,

TCD is creating a new model for impact in India. TCD is an affiliated center of the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics.


To apply for the position: please email a cover letter and CV to