Distributed solar photovoltaic is a well-established technology to meet small-scale rural energy needs in an affordable, reliable, and carbon-neutral manner. Such socio-technical transitions offer substantive support to address energy poverty and act as a key tool to realise human well-being, economic prosperity, and environmental conservation envisioned under Sustainable development goals (SDGs). In this study, households using solar photovoltaic were surveyed to determine prospects of solar energy use in rural communities. The participants include rural households from Uttar Pradesh, India that had received i) a small scale and subsidised solar systems, ii) obtained paid connection from solar microgrids, and iii) those who purchased solar systems for power reliability. We report high satisfaction with distributed solar photovoltaic among rural households. The factors influencing a desire to procure additional solar power include income, level of education, duration of solar use, user satisfaction, time of day for the power supply and financial support for procurement. Our findings also suggest that freely given solar power offers limited incentives for procuring more solar power. We further analyse the policy of welfare using energy justice as a conceptual tool. This can explain paradoxical aspects of subsidies that are widely used as a socio-political tool to improve quality of life for those that are disadvantaged but fail to address fundamental structural aspects of the energy system that are underscored by procedural justice issues. We propose policies for distributed clean energy in emerging countries must address concurrent energy transitions and energy justice frameworks to support sustained decentralised solar transitions. Without these two foundations operating in tandem, carbon lock-in and the energy poverty cycle will be inexorably linked.
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- Clean energy access
- Energy justice
- Energy poverty
- Rural communities