Note:  Visiting Associate Professor, Vermont Law School, Institute for Energy and the Environment, PO Box 96, 164 Chelsea Street, South Royalton, VT 05068-0444 United States. Email: Bsovacool@vermontlaw.edu and email@example.com; Phone: 802-831-1053, Fax: 802-831-1158
Abstract: Over the course of 2002 to 2007, the $316 million Renewable Energy Development Project (REDP) sold more than 400,000 solar home systems benefiting two million individuals in north-western China. This study examines the history, benefits, and challenges of the REDP. International development donors and energy analysts have hailed the REDP as a best practice example in solar home system deployment. The article illustrates how solar home systems continue to provide benefits to users and that their portability especially complements the lifestyle of nomadic herders that roam the vast expanses of the country's North-western region. However, it also finds that even for such highly successful programmes as the REDP, purchasing decisions are based on price rather than quality, and after-sales service networks remain weak. Grid electrification and market saturation have also eroded the contributions made under the programme. The article concludes by drawing on what the experiences of the REDP mean for the regulation and governance of off-grid solar electrification projects more generally.
Keywords: solar home systems, energy poverty, energy security