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‘Adaptability, not technology, hinders use of solar energy’ in India

According to reports, adaptability to need-based context and not technology is what is preventing solar energy become scalable in our country today, said Magsaysay award winner social entrepreneur Harish Hande on Sunday.

Hande was delivering a lecture on “Is solar expensive and does it make sense for the poor of our country?” at CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune. The lecture was a part of the Dr R A Mashelkar Endowment lecture series instituted by NCL Research Foundation and CSIR-NCL.

Talking about his experiences while working with solar power in rural Karnataka, he said, “In one village we had set up centralised power source in a school building. The kids were asked to bring batteries of the weight of tiffin boxes to school everyday to charge with the solar panel and then take them back in the evening to provide a source of electricity at home. This served a dual purpose as the parents ensured that kids went to school every day so that there is electricity at home.”

“What we need today is massive decentralisation in  spheres ranging from administration to energy distribution. There is a need to change the thought process of business model. There is a need to have a sustainable eco-system covering the sectors such as finance, environment, and social responsibility. Wrong usage leads people to think that solar energy is expensive,” said Hande, managing director of SELCO India, a solar energy company that he set up in 1995.

Citing the example of Pune and Bangalore, two of the leading cities in the nation in terms of usage of solar water heaters, he said, institutes like the Industrial Training Institute (ITIs) need to come up with programmes that will produce manpower with minimum skills.

Hande added that a Renewable Energy Working Group has been set up at the national level to act as energy equivalent to bodies like Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) that are likely to include small entrepreneurs.

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