A $2 billion a year market for clean-energy products such as solar-powered lanterns may exist among India’s rural poor who want dependable, energy-efficient devices. The poor who live outside cities and comprise 60 percent of the nation’s 1.2 billion people already spend $4.8 billion a year on fuels like firewood and dung for energy for lack of better, more reliable alternatives, said the report supported by the ICICI Foundation.
One of three Indians lack access to electricity, a deficit that must be closed to ensure the expansion of the world’s third-fastest growing major economy, the International Energy Agency said that India is seeking to promote standalone renewable energy projects, including 2,000 megawatts of decentralized solar plants by 2022, to help plug gaps in its electricity grid.
Saurabh Lall, a research officer at the Washington-based World Resources Institute, which helped conduct the study said that if there are high-quality renewable products and services that meet consumer demand available, there is a market for them, even in the very poorest communities.
Companies supplying clean-energy alternatives to rural communities report that sales have grown on average by 36 percent since 2004. The study surveyed 23 companies in India. A shortage of power-generating capacity and other infrastructure shaves 2 percentage points from growth, the Finance Ministry estimates. The economy has expanded an average 8.5 percent in the last five years.