Despite continuous efforts to improve coverage, access to electricity remains insufficient in many developing countries, particularly in geographically challenged locations, mostly because of the high cost of grid extension. To rigorously investigate the effectiveness of solar products as an alternative in remote areas, the authors of this article conducted a randomized controlled trial in river islands of northern Bangladesh where no grid-based electricity is available. They found that solar lanterns significantly increased home study hours among schooled children, especially during the night and before exams; the school attendance rate also initially increased when solar lamps were provided, although such effects faded away over time. The authors also found marginal improvements in health-related indicators, such as eye redness and irritation, but negligible impacts on respiratory indicators. Households that received solar lanterns substituted the traditional lighting sources with modern technology, leading to a significant decrease in annual biomass fuel consumptions, particularly kerosene. Finally, treated households showed a greater self-reported willingness to purchase solar products than the control group.
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