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Boost to energy solutions for households off the grid

According to reports, an initiative to create access to clean and affordable energy to underserved communities has been given a financial boost with a $2,00,000 grant awarded to SELCO Solar Pvt. Ltd., a social enterprise that provides sustainable energy solutions.

The grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will go towards setting up six new innovation labs that will test and develop sustainable energy solutions for rural households, urban poor (primarily residents of slums) and tribal communities, said Ashis Kumar Sahu, head of SELCO Incubation Centre, on Tuesday.

SELCO’s innovation labs have already created technology such as solar powered tills for farmers; portable and smokeless solar lights for street vendors to replace kerosene lamps, and cellphone-sized solar batteries that power lamps for students in energy-deprived areas, Mr. Sahu said at a press conference.

No less than 40 per cent of Indians have no access to electricity and another 40 per cent have erratic supply at best, Mr. Sahu said. As much as 70 per cent of rural Indians use biomass, reflecting the connection between poverty and lack of energy access.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Biswal said these sustainable and renewable energy projects would help millions of Indian families, who live off the grid, to gain access to affordable, reliable and clean energy for the first time.

She also announced USAID’s support of a $2.5 million loan guarantee to Orb Energy, a clean energy service provider, which will provide energy to underserved communities in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

Discussions at next week’s Energy Dialogue in Delhi would focus on collaborations on clean energy technology, and would be attended by U.S. and Indian scientists, entrepreneurs and government officials, Ms. Biswal said.

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