Solarizing Agriculture: Estimating the Economic Returns to Solar Irrigation Pumps in Bangladesh

Researchers will embed a village-level randomized evaluation into the ongoing, government-led rollout of the solar irrigation pump (SIP) program in Bangladesh to study how the adoption, usage, and maintenance of SIP technologies are affected by the type of financing and ownership contracts offered to groups of farmers. Researchers will estimate the direct impacts of access to SIPs on irrigation and cropping practices, agricultural productivity, and the efficiency of groundwater use, as well as village-level effects on crop prices, farmer revenues, and local agricultural labor demand and supply. Using measurements of well water levels across all the villages in the sample, researchers will examine local groundwater spillovers associated with SIP use. In the second agricultural year, researchers will investigate the distributional impacts of SIPs on the efficiency of groundwater use by introducing two cross-cutting interventions: 1) offering farmers with grid access the option to sell surplus energy from the SIP to the local electric utility, and 2) offering farmers access to alternate wetting and drying or drip irrigation technologies. The purpose of these secondary interventions is to test whether adding the option to sell surplus energy to the grid enhances the groundwater efficiency benefits of SIPs by increasing the opportunity cost of extraction and to test for complementarities between investments in SIPs and other water-efficient technologies, respectively.

RFP Cycle:
Spring 2022
  • Pilot project