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Harish Hande charges solar industry at SolarCon 2013

According to reports, Cross subsidy of green power usage should be used as risk guarantee to banks to finance solar programmes in rural areas, enmasse, said Dr HarishHande, Ramon Magsassay award winner in a conclave of solar industry—SolarCon 2013 in Bangalore on Thursday. He stressed that the industry should be innovative, resilient and guts to penetrate into the market and does not need government subsidies to survive any more.

“A street vendor customizes his or her expenses and investment to his or her needs in a village to sustain herself. The solar industry needs to learn this from the street vendor. If the government finances through rural banks then the rural market can become a huge potential for investments as well making villagers bankable. Look at the Siddis today, they have repaid the loans taken to install solar systems and are interested to take loans to open their small business now,” he explained at the event.

He lambasted the industry and the government for not breaking business models and penetrating into the rural areas, where it has its highest potential. “Off grid solar power will help make even a villager a social entrepreneur but big companies would not be interested to see how the social revolution takes place than his own business flourishing. Cost cutting and no innovation in marketing has let this industry look less dominating which is not true,” he added.

He encouraged the energy providers to tap into the mid-day meal or education or women and child welfare department to begin with and make people’s lives sustainable. SolarCon in its fifth edition in Bangalore is seeing conglomerates of companies, individuals, experts from the field and officials from renewable energy departments have ganged up to improve and enable energy efficient worlds.

Even professor Pradeep Haldar from SUNY at Albany and chief operating officer of US PV Manufacturing Consortium said, “world over photo voltaics growth is projected to reach 35Giga Watts in 2013 which was 32GW in 2012. Moneywise, it is estimated to make USD 134 billion annually by 2020. But the biggest challenge is making solar power implementation large scale. This requires government involvement for public good.”

Hande also stressed on state government removing VAT such that products become cheaper and buyable by lower and middle income groups. “KERC and power companies should incentivize those who are producing solar energy for their own premises and not depending on the grid for at least five year period. This would certainly make cities economically viable and government should look at it from the development point of view not a loss through subsidy,” he told TOI.

Lastly, he remarked that urban youth which has de-alienated from what happens in rural India should be incentivized. “Ask any top b-school student what is the interest rate of any rural bank in his native land, he wouldn’t know but he would rattle the interest rates and business models of top MNC banks. This needs to be changed. If you need to change improve marketing models, tap the rural sector and break the social hierarchy,” Hande added.

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