LED workshop addresses energy efficient lighting solutions in India

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16 August 2016

NEW DELHI: The Climate Group hosted a key workshop on Friday as part of the India Energy Access Summit 2016 that focused on ways to accelerate the adoption of off-grid LED outdoor lighting in India.

The workshop, as part of The Climate Group’s ongoing Global LED consultation, took place alongside the Summit's Efficiency for Access day and assessed the opportunities of scaling up energy efficient, high quality and affordable off-grid community lighting solutions in India, and incentivising private sector investments.

Krishnan Pallassana, India Director, The Climate Group, delivered the events opening remarks and said: “Since 2009, The Climate Group has established itself as a leading voice around energy efficient lighting in India, helping municipalities and ULBs to make the switch and enjoy the benefits that high quality, high efficient LED lighting provides.

The event today highlighted the opportunity that lies behind providing clean, energy efficient and reliable lighting solutions to rural communities in India, and demonstrated the strong will from stakeholders at all levels to work collaboratively to create the right enabling environment for this transition to happen. We are honoured to be the leading convener of such an inspiring conversation and we look forward to seeing progress in the space.”

Dr. G. Prasad, Director, Solar Photovoltaic Off-Grid at India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) moderated the first session on project implementation of off grid community lighting. The session included presentations from Mr Vikas Malhotra, Director of Marketing, Philips Lighting India, a key partner of the Summit, Sameer Nair, Director, Graam Oorja, and Shirish S. Garud, Director and Senior Fellow, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

During his presentation Mr Malhotra discussed Philips Lighting’s experiences with off-grid outdoor lighting projects in India, addressing key challenges and lessons learned from the installation of over 76,000 solar street lighting units connecting 1,500 villages across India. Besides the energy generation being environmentally friendly, the installed systems provide wider socio-economic benefits for the villages and have improved the living conditions of the local population.

Mr Sameer Nair, Director at renewable energy company Graam Oorja, presented examples of successful models for rural electrification in remote areas in India, with Mr Shirish Garud from TERI then addressing the topic of LED quality. Following the ambitious commitment from the Indian government of achieving 100% adoption of LED lighting by 2018, Mr Garud highlighted the importance of LED product quality, performance verification, and enforcement at national level to achieve this target quickly and effectively. 

During his presentation, Mr Garud reiterated the importance of the recently signed partnership between TERI and Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) aimed at jointly achieving the energy efficiency objectives, both in India and globally. The partnership will see TERI focus on working with governments, regulatory bodies, industry organizations and utilities to create a policy environment for clean energy technologies, with EESL supporting project implementation and innovative business models for end users.

Shirish Garud, Director and Senior Fellow at TERI, said: "I congratulate The Climate Group for successfully organising 'Accelerating adoption of off-grid LED lighting and financing’. LEDs are going to play an increasingly important role especially in providing lighting in off-grid and remote, inaccessible areas apart from urban electrified areas. While their portability, ease of assembling end products with bought out components and modularity is an advantage, it also creates barriers for quality monitoring as a number of small and unorganised sector players are entering the trade. There is an urgent need to evolve a comprehensive and easily deployable quality system across the markets.

Apart from robust systems for quality control, creating awareness among the users about quality products is also an essential step. This workshop was a major step in sensitizing the agencies and stakeholders including corporates on quality of LED products. I wish the Climate Group all the success."

The second part of the workshop focussed on finance and new business models to help mitigate project risk for investments in energy efficiency and LED lighting projects (particularly where credit ratings may be low), and to help create a more attractive environment for private sector financing.

Acknowledging that adoption of LED municipal lighting in India is progressing, despite some remaining barriers and challenges, this session looked into key lessons from grid connected lighting that could be applied to the scale-up of off-grid solutions.

The session was moderated by Jiwan Acharya, Senior Energy Specialist at the Asian Development Bank, and presentations were given by Sumeet Shukla, Investment Officer at the International Finance Corporation, Prabhat Kumar, Program Manager at EESL, and Manoj Kumar, Expert of Operations at Small Industries Development Bank of India.

In his presentation, Mr Sumeet Shukla provided an overview of various financial models and key factors that help to build sustainable and reliable projects. Mr Shukla emphasized the importance of clear guidelines at the regional state level to help implement energy efficiency projects, such as the directive shown by Prime Minister Modi and the availability for risk guarantees on financing.

Initiatives such as EESL, a public Energy Service Company (ESCO) established by the Ministry of Power in 2009 to develop the market for ESCOs and encourage investment in energy efficiency projects, are crucial in this process. In just one year, EESL has replaced over 800,000 street lights, resulting in estimated annual savings of 98 million kilowatt-hour and US$6.4 million.

A presentation from Mr Manoj Kumar, Expert of Operations at SIDBI, also addressed the topic of risk guarantees and he discussed the Partial Risk Sharing Facility for Energy Efficiency Project, a joint initiative from the World Bank and the Government of India to assist enterprises and Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) in mitigating risk and mobilizing finance for energy efficiency projects. From a total allocation of US$43 million, about US$37 million are managed by SIDBI and allocated as a guarantee to cover a share of the default that financial institutions may face when providing loans to projects. The remaining US$6 million, jointly managed by EESL and SIDBI, will be used to offer technical assistance and capacity building for ESCOs.

Mr Vikas Malhotra, Director of Marketing at Philips Lighting, said: “Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all is one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations Sustainable Energy For All initiative. The reality, however, remains that one-fifth of the world’s population does not have electricity either at home or community lighting. 

Adoption of energy efficient technologies such as LED lighting can play a key enabling role in developing decentralized renewable energy systems. Off-grid street LED lights can help in providing high efficiency, high quality street lighting to rural India.

Events like the India Energy Access Summit help in bringing together various stakeholders to deliberate on the way to accelerate and establish a sustainable program for expansion of access to electricity and reduce environmental degradation and improve the supply and efficient use of clean energy.”

by Arianna Tozzi

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