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Ashden lauds India’s 15-20% growth rate in off-grid electrification

According to reports, Ashden, a UK based global charity promoting sustainable energy and the custodian of the Ashden Awards, which reward sustainable energy pioneers that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives, alongwith a group of India’s leading sustainable energy pioneers have reaffirmed their faith in India to emerge as the leader in energy access for the poor amongst the world economies through off-grid electrification. The experts have lauded the annual growth rate of 15-20% of the organised off-grid electrification in the country. The sector is fast growing in popularity and is estimated to be worth Rs.500 crore in India. The experts feel that the Indian government needs to demonstrate global leadership in increasing the poor’s access to energy.

According to Sarah Butler-Sloss, Founder Director of the Ashden Awards and international sustainable energy champions, “Off-grid electrification in India, in particular, has seen an increase in the activity since the launch of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission of MNRE (which aims at installing 2000 Mw of off-grid solar power in next 10 years) and the Decentralised Distribution Generation programme of Ministry of Power. With rising prices of diesel and falling prices of solar PV, this sector will see an explosive growth in the next five to seven years. A positive policy environment, focusing on bio energy, small hydro and solar could make India a world leader in decentralised renewable energy.”

In India, the Ashden India Sustainable Energy Collective (AISEC) was set up by Ashden 19 former Ashden award winners in 2010 with the aim of accelerating access to renewable energy in the country by influencing national policies. It currently has 19 members. Members include Harish Hande of SELCO, Gon Chaudhuri of the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency and Svati Bhogle of TIDE.

Said Hemant Lamba, Chief Liaison officer of AISEC and CEO of solar power provider Aurore “AISEC members have demonstrated that the knowledge and skills already exist to transform India’s energy sector and radically improve the lives of the poor. Small-scale renewable energy is poised to provide the next technological revolution, bypassing conventional electric cables in the same way that mobile technology has leapfrogged the need for telecommunications cables.”

Some 40% of India’s population does not have access to grid electricity, using dangerous and polluting kerosene to light their homes. 85% of the population cook on inefficient and dangerous cook stoves, with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Bengal and Orissa among the ‘darkest’ states.

Said The Honourable Sarah Butler-Sloss, Founder Director of the Ashden Awards and international sustainable energy champions “In the 12 years since the Ashden Awards were established, we have seen more exciting and innovative business models delivering sustainable energy coming out ofIndia than anywhere else in the world – so much so that India is the only country that with Ashden’s support has created its own organisation made up of former Ashden Award winners. It’s fantastic to see AISEC already acting as a real force for change in India”.

The efforts of the members of AISEC have resulted in the Reserve Bank of India including lending to household renewable energy applications as a priority sector lending. This has the potential to transform small-scale renewable energy into a booming industry.

“The government urgently needs to create the right policy framework to allow this to happen and to enable India to realise its potential to become a leader in increasing the poor’s access to energy.” Added Lamba.

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