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Awareness of renewable energy and energy efficiency low in India

According to a first-of-its-kind survey conductedby Mercom Capital Group titled ‘India Renewable Energy Awareness Survey,’ only56% of Indian consumers have heard of ‘renewable energy’ or ‘clean energy’, and only 27% of consumers have heard of ‘energy efficiency’. Although awareness was low, 71% of Indian consumers surveyed are willing to pay higher rates for electricity from renewable energy sources.

Mercom Capital Group, a global clean energy consulting and communications firm, surveyed more than 500 commercial, residential and rural consumers in India that resulted in strong evidence that consumers are willing to pay more for uninterrupted power and the opportunity to use renewable energy.

A surprising finding was that 65% of consumers in India are willing to pay more for uninterrupted power. There is a common misconception in India that consumers will not pay more for power, which has been the driving force behind state government policies that have been reluctant to raise power prices to reflect rising costs. This has led to decreased revenue among the power utilities, huge losses, continued power cuts and lack of financial resources to invest in power projects and infrastructure.

With policies like ‘Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission’ being implemented and renewable energy gaining importance as a future energy source in India, understanding the perceptions of consumers about renewable energy is a vital factor for these policies to succeed.

“Policies are implemented from the top down without any input or buy-in from consumers,”commented Raj Prabhu of Mercom Capital Group. “There seems to be a general lack of education and awareness among consumers on these issues. How do you expect consumers to support and adopt renewable energy if they don’t understand what it is? Energy efficiency tends to cost a fraction compared to new supply but unless consumers are educated about these programs the adoption will be slow and ineffective.”

Some ofMercom’s survey findings included:

·        When asked about benefits of renewable energy, 81% pointed out ‘goodfor environment’ as a benefit, 54% said ‘no power cuts’ and 47% said ‘lower energy bills’ was a benefit of renewable energy.

 ·        Solar was the most identified form of renewable energy with 92% ofthe consumers having heard of it, mainly due to the prevalence of solar waterheaters. Only 49% of consumers had heard of wind energy.

 ·        82% of survey respondents overwhelmingly support renewable energy projects and 90% said government should support renewable energy.

“Overall wefound a general lack of education and understanding about renewable energy andenergy efficiency,” continued Raj Prabhu of Mercom Capital Group. “For anypolicy or program to achieve broad success, there needs to be a sustained education and communications initiative to get the consumer’s buy-in.”

A total of 509 respondents were interviewed for this survey. The survey was conducted face-to-face due to limitations of technology in some areas surveyed.

This survey was conducted in areas around Bangalore and Mysore cities. Rural areas covered:Villages of Akkihebbal, Sindhugatta, Balagatta and Vasanthapura. Residentialareas covered: Bangalore – Basaveshwaranagar, Mysore – Yadavagiri, T.K. Layout,Bogadi and Bamboo Bazaar. Industrial/Commercial areas covered: Bangalore –Rajajinagar, Yeshwanthpur, Shivananda Circle, Seshadripuram and Peenya. Mysore –Hebbal, Belavadi and Metagalli.

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