The CLEAN Network is India's leading trade group working to support, unify and grow the decentralized clean energy sector, with a focus on improving energy access for the rural and urban poor. COO Harihara Mohapatra spoke with Power for All about the state of the sector in India, and what's needed to scale decentralized renewable energy (DRE).
In the interview, Mohapatra notes that India's current electrification rate is about 200,000 households per month. At that rate, and assuming 43 million households still without electricity, the current approach would require another 18 years to achieve the goal of universal electricity access. This makes it crystal clear, Mohapatra said, that DRE must play a greater contribution to ending electricity poverty. CLEAN, whose members account for about half of the 250 DRE companies currently working in the country, believes the government must reach a consensus on the role of DRE as a mainstream energy service provider, which might mean treating private last-mile connectivity energy service providers (ESCOs) as virtual subsidiaries or franchises to the state distribution companies.
In particular, Mohapatra calls for three actions: 1. a technology agnostic policy approach that recognizes the complementary role of DRE is grid electrification; 2. greater access to finance, especially low-cost debt (which will come from policy recognition) and 3. more investment in R&D to create new DRE applications to improve livelihoods for India's rural poor.
Listen to the entire interview below: