Accelerating Decentralized Renewable Energy for 24X7 Power for All

Swati Madan, Programme Coordinator, The Climate Group
Reading time: 4 minutes
30 January 2019

The Government of India is closing on its ambitious goal of electrifying 100% of households. The achievement of this milestone will be significant for India as it holds the potential for accelerating positive development outcomes, especially across the rural parts of the country. The next frontier on electrification – as identified by the government – is of guaranteeing all electrified households access to quality, reliable and affordable power for all; the 24X7 Power for All initiative – jointly undertaken by the national and state governments – is a step in that direction.

Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE) solutions present a huge opportunity for a further push, in that direction. It holds the potential to complement government efforts in providing meaningful energy access,  which goes beyond connectivity to meet critical quality metrics deemed necessary for fulfilling rising rural aspirations and spurring socio-economic development.

DRE – India’s big opportunity for accelerating clean energy access and rural economy

In many pockets of the country, DRE has been key in providing clean electricity to un-served rural households.  It has also benefited under-served areas that are connected to the national grid but do not enjoy a regular supply of electricity. If DRE is tied into national and state-level energy master plans, it can supplement the capacity of local distribution companies in a clean and sustainable way, as opposed to the traditional use of polluting fuels such as kerosene that are used extensively for meeting even basic lighting needs.

The integration of DRE with the grid also supports distribution companies in cutting technical losses that result from supplying electricity to remote areas in rural India. Better still, DRE is gradually seeing a shift towards business models that promote productive and commercial applications, fitting in perfectly with the government’s bid to augment rural livelihoods.

The implementation of DRE in India, with its vast local market and growing manufacturing opportunity, can become a global hub for innovations in DRE business models and technology. In doing so, the country will not only put itself on the path to a clean and sustainable energy system, but also generate hundreds of jobs.

Energizing action on DRE using networks

At The Climate Group, we envision a world of no more than 1.5°C of global warming and greater prosperity for all; to achieve this we must accelerate India’s clean energy transition, by scaling-up adoption of decentralized renewable energy solutions.

To that end, The Climate Group focusses on unlocking capital, promoting viable business models and encouraging private sector participation. Together with Goldman Sachs Center for Environmental Markets and cKinetics Consulting, we are currently designing de-risking instruments to increase the availability of commercial debt for DRE solutions.

The initiative draws on the expertise of DRE experts and financiers, with a view to harness potential synergies. This aligns with our strong belief in catalysing partnerships for enhanced impact - our work invariably encompasses building platforms that bring together diverse stakeholders to enable crafting a shared vision and inform a collaborative way forward.

Our belief in collective action also translates into support for convenings that similarly seek to accelerate India’s clean energy transitions through DRE. The India Distributed Energy Forum & Expo 2019 (IDEF), led by GOGLA in partnership with IFC Lighting Asia and Ashden India Collective, is conceived as one such convening platform. The forum will chart a business-driven route for distributed standalone solar in India. Keeping the private sector at the centre of the discussions, the forum will facilitate partnerships among key stakeholders that include sector practitioners, government representatives, financial institutions, development organizations and potential business partners.

As a supporter of the forum, The Climate Group will offer key DRE market insights in order to inform government policy, unlock required capital and scale up private sector participation. Together, we will seek to explore the outlook on DRE, specifically distributed solar, in strengthening the government's efforts on universalizing energy access in India. In doing so, we anticipate to significantly move the needle on shaping India’s transition to a 24X7 supply - one that provisions reliable, affordable and quality electricity to all.  

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