The Climate Group partners with SwitchON to provide off-grid West Bengal, India with clean energy
- 05 February 2014
NEW DELHI: The Climate Group’s Bijli program has announced a new partnership with energy company SwitchON, to boost access to clean, affordable energy in rural, off-grid communities in India.
SwitchON, a non-profit arm of ONergy that drives 'last mile' access to energy and rural energy entrepreneurship, will buy 2,500 low carbon solar hand-held lights from D.light and Green Light Planet to distribute to rural parts of West Bengal, India, as part of a partnership with The Climate Group’s Bijli - Clean Energy for All program.
The solar-powered lights can provide up to 16 hours of bright light on a full charge and can also be used to charge smart phones, bringing much-needed reliable energy to West Bengal's off-grid communities.
SwitchON will also identify 150 ‘micro-entrepreneurs’ in the region to sell the lights, providing them with business, marketing and technical training as well as access to a low-cost line of credit. This will allow local people to capitalize on the opportunities that will come from the emerging clean energy market, and successfully run their own small, sustainable businesses.
Ekta Kothari, CEO, SwitchON, told us: "West Bengal is one of the most challenging states in India with regard to rural electrification, since roughly half of the population lacks adequate and reliable access to electricity. In partnership with The Climate Group through the Bijli Project, SwitchON will reach beneficiaries with solar lighting solutions by fostering rural entrepreneurship and facilitating credit in order to provide access to basic and reliable electricity. We are excited and honored to be included in such an important initiative."
The partnership is part of The Climate Group’s access to rural energy project in India, Bijli – Clean Energy for All*, which is principally funded by the Dutch Postcode Lottery and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance the lives of rural inhabitants by deploying renewable energy technologies, and improving infrastructure over the course of two years.
Jim Walker, Co-founder and International Programmes and Strategy Director, The Climate Group, said: "Along with solar micro-grids and household systems, solar LED lanterns are an example of how innovations in finance and clean energy technology are starting to have a positive impact for the 400 million people who live in off-grid areas in India. Not only will the partnership with SwitchON help improve access to clean, affordable, reliable energy for some of the poorest communities in West Bengal, but the market will also offer new economic opportunities for local villagers. We look forward to collaborating with SwitchON for Bijli- Clean Energy for All and using our initial learning experiences to help unblock barriers to rapid scale-up in this space going forward.”
Earlier in the month, The Climate Group announced that SELCO India, in partnership with Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund (S3IDF) and Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan, joined Bijli - Clean Energy for All to install solar home-lighting systems in 700 households within the next six months. This new partnership will provide decentralized clean energy solutions to 3,500 new customers in the hilly tribal villages in Nandurbar district, Maharashtra.
*Bijli means ‘electricity’ in Hindi.
By Clare Saxon