Despite being a US$ 50 billion market and an opportunity to increase incomes for rural communities in India, solar-powered productive-use appliances -- for tailoring, food processing, carpentry and others -- are still unable to access end-user finance and therefore unable to scale, according to a new report.
For two decades, Bangladesh has been the testing ground for using distributed solar to achieve energy access at scale. The main vehicle for this remarkable experiment has been the unremarkable-sounding Infrastructure Development Company Ltd. (IDCOL), which—in 2004—started to finance a Bangladesh solar home system (SHS) program using the innovative financial and technology packages I designed and implemented as the Founding Managing Director of Grameen Shakti in 1996. Today, this public-private partnership, backed initially by the World Bank and involving more than 60 NGOs and social enterprises, is anything but ordinary, having lifted up an entire generation.
India grabbed headlines in April 2015 when the Modi government pledged to achieve universal energy access, aka Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), in four years. It was and remains a world-leading commitment, and coupled with a 175 GW target for new clean power generation by 2022 (including 40 GW of grid-tied rooftop solar), it triggered a wave of new investment and market growth.
In 2017, the African Development Bank (AfDB) will hold its annual meeting in India for the first time. The AfDB has targeted 75 million decentralized renewable connections in its plan to achieve universal energy access by 2025, while India has its sights on 40 GW of rooftop solar and 10,000 mini-grids in its bid to achieve “24/7 Power for All” by 2019. Imagine the learnings that the two have to share. Next year, also sees the International Solar Alliance (ISA) hit its stride, bringing together 20+ countries with a major focus on energy access through decentralized solutions, and opportunities for cross-learning are bolstered further under the Paris climate agreement plans for regional partnerships and technology transfer—a key to the low carbon transition.
The chief electricity regulator in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh (UP), has said out loud what many have been saying behind closed doors for a while: India's very high-profile campaign to extend its electric grid nationally by 2019 and provide energy access to every Indian, is distorting the reality on the ground. Desh Deepak Verma, whose UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) is responsible for serving 200 million people, said claims of rapid advances in electrification, especially in hard to reach rural areas, must come under scrutiny.
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