Poverty reduction through photovoltaic-based development intervention in China: Potentials and constraints

Chuan Liao, Ding Fei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Photovoltaic-based development intervention programs have substantial potential in alleviating poverty, but implementing them in remote rural areas remains challenging. This study evaluates China's recent national policy to reduce poverty through government-led photovoltaic-based intervention in 471 counties of 16 provinces. We took a spatial approach to analyze program targeting, and applied a spatial lag model to examine the determinants of its implementation. The findings indicate that the program, which targets at counties that are poorer and endowed with greater solar radiation, can potentially make an unprecedented contribution to poverty reduction. However, far fewer counties and households are included in implementation plans, indicating tremendous challenges to carry out the program. We find counties with implementation plans tend to be spatially clustered, and major constraints to implementation include poor grid infrastructure, sparse population density, and low economic activities in rural areas. We suggest a more flexible PV-based intervention program that takes account of the specific socio-economic and environmental contexts of counties can generate greater impact on addressing the ‘last mile problem’ of poverty reduction in remote rural areas in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalWorld Development
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • China
  • Photovoltaic-based intervention
  • Policy analysis
  • Poverty reduction
  • Renewable energy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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