Turning up the heat. Second-round effects of a green energy intervention in Eastern DR Congo. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024


To curb the climate crisis, we need to promote green energy. Economic research can play a key role in evaluating different policy options. In recent years, Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) rose to prominence in effectiveness research. However, the issue of scalability remains understudied: what happens when successful experiments are scaled? Limited by their short-term micro-data, RCTs do not have an answer to this question. I seek to contribute to closing this knowledge gap by studying the scaling up of a green energy policy in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Goma's 1.1 million inhabitants mainly use charcoal for cooking, which not only poses an individual health hazard, but also threatens Virunga National Park. In an attempt to safeguard the Park, Virunga Energies (VE) is distributing Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs) to clients connected to its electric grid. After a successful pilot in 2021 and an RCT in 2022, VE decided to scale up the EPC distribution. I will study whether the pilot results hold in the longer term, or whether maintenance and repair issues set in, and – if so – how they can be addressed. In addition, I will study whether the large-scale EPC distribution slows down deforestation, or whether second-round effects in the charcoal market nullify this intended effect. Finally, I will study whether armed actors, who currently control the charcoal trade, are weakened and violence abates, or whether they adapt and turn to other illicit income sources.


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  • Research Project