Briefing Paper Series on Sustainable Energy and Rural Energy Access 2014-2015

Sector Access To Energy
Undertaken By Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective
Undertaken By base All India
Year 2014

Research on decentralized renewable energy (DRE) has lacked perspective from practitioners. Under this initiative, rural energy practitioners have systematically identified critical themes relevant to DRE in India. Each theme is presented in the form of a briefing paper. Shakti has collaborated with Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective (AIREC) – a group of grassroots project implementation agencies, individuals and winners of the prestigious Ashden awards (distinguished contributors to rural energy access) - to prepare the briefing papers. All papers in the series are essentially thinking and working papers. Readers are welcome to provide feedback, which will help inform and also shape future strategies.

Tagged Under decentralized renewable energy, rural energy access, solar, hybrid, hydro, biomass, home lighting, lanterns, micro-grids

  • Paper 1 - Sustainable Energy Access: The DRE Way
  • This paper serves as an introduction to the series. It provides an overview of the DRE sector, the technologies it employs, the features of these solutions, and their relevance for India.

  • Paper 2 - Human Capacities and Capabilities for Decentralized Renewable Energy
  • Decentralized renewable energy (DRE) is seen to have enormous potential to address energy access gaps in India, but the sector’s growth has been constrained by numerous factors, including the lack of skilled manpower for critical functions. To date, the approach to address this shortfall has been to devise training programme in DRE. While there is no doubt that skills development through training is important, a systematic approach to address the labour void in DRE faces two challenges. The first is a lack of understanding of the employment needs and prospects of the DRE sector, and the second is gaps in the way DRE training is currently being provided.

  • Paper 3 - Clean Cooking Energy for All: Renewed Thinking in Five Key Areas
  • Provision of clean cooking energy in India is a big challenge. The paper discusses clean cooking by identifying and deliberating important themes such as technology choice, product design, market development, affordability, financing, fuel management and policies.

  • Paper 4 - Decentralized Renewable Energy Financing: Needs-orientation, Benefits Valuation, and Linkage with Performance
  • Decentralized renewable energy (DRE) is a powerful solution to address the access-to-electricity problem in rural India. The paper presents a practitioners' view on the incumbent financing ecosystem of DRE in the country, touching few fundamental aspects. The paper also presents few financing approaches for organizing and stimulating the DRE market in India.

  • Paper 5 - Mainstreaming Bio-Energy for Heat and Power: Systematically Tapping Opportunities
  • Biomass resources provide nearly 30% of India’s energy needs. Conventional biomass in the form of agricultural waste, forest residue, and dung are used as cookstove fuel, forming a major energy resource to nearly 70% of Indian households. Biomass energy provides a huge potential to support the growing energy needs of India. The paper presents a view on various aspects that will govern the utilization of this potential.

  • Paper 6 - Hybrid Systems in Decentralised Distributed Generation of Electricity: Potential and Challenges
  • Hybrid systems for decentralized electricity generation is an promising and emerging solution. As the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) solutions scale up, hybrid systems are expected to expand considerably.This paper outlines the potential role of hybridization in (DRE) initiatives for electricity generation and discusses several features and challenges.

  • Paper 7 - Priming the Solar Pump
  • The briefing paper presents solar pumps as an alternative for traditional water pumping systems that operate using grid electricity, diesel and kerosene. It discusses the potential of solar pumps replacing conventional pumps in varied end uses, its technical feasibility and economic benefits for different stakeholders such as government, utility and users, and financing models for implementation. The paper underlines the need of a holistic approach to be adopted by the policy makers to stimulate the solar-pump market which includes elements such as investments in R&D, streamlining of value-chain, increasing efficiency of pumps among others. In addition, the paper also stresses on the need to promote efficient irrigation methods for sustainable water management.

  • Paper 8 - Solar Off-Grid Lighting: An Optimistic and Pragmatic View Required
  • Uptake of solar lighting systems has grown exponentially over the last decade. Solar lighting systems are seen as a promising substitute to the kerosene lamps which are extensively used in rural areas for lighting. The paper outlines the strengths and weaknesses of solar off-grid lighting solutions, discusses a view on the role its various applications can play in providing electricity access to rural India in a sustainable way.

  • Paper 9 - DRE-Based Micro Grids: Motivation for Developing Grid-Interactive Systems
  • The briefing paper on decentralized renewable energy based micro-grids identifies technical, commercial, implementation, policy and regulatory challenges in operating micro-grids in India. Aspects such as project design and development, financing, grid compatibility and interactivity, policy and regulatory assurance, among others, are discussed in the paper. The paper also examines the prospect of DRE based micro/ mini-grids as a complement to the national grid, enhancing its resiliency and reliability.

  • Paper 10 - Institutional Transitions to Mainstream Decentralized Renewable Energy for Sustainable Energy Access
  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) have led the efforts in promoting grid-connected as well as off-grid renewable energy solutions, with some success. However, the real potential of DRE to provide clean, reliable and affordable energy to the rural populace has not been fully captured. The ministry-governed program designs for promoting DRE have lacked foresight in developing the rural energy markets. This briefing paper discusses institutional transitions required for mainstreaming decentralized renewable energy in India.

  • Paper 11 - Regulatory Imperatives for Scaling Up Decentralized Renewable Energy in India
  • The Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) policy dispensation in India lacks the support of adequate regulatory arrangements, and thus has impeded the growth of this sector. This briefing paper presents a view on a range of regulatory aspects on various product segments of DRE such as micro-grids, off-grid stand-alone home lighting devices and other solar applications, and cooking energy systems. Performance standards for devices, norms on energy quality and device safety, regulatory imperatives in case of the arrival of grid power, enforcement of renewable energy obligations, resource harvesting norms and few other crucial aspects have been discussed.

  • Paper 12 - Decentralized Renewable Energy for Rural Development: The Way Forward
  • Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective with support from Shakti prepared a series of papers on a number of identified themes relevant to Decentralized Renewable Energy (DRE) ecosystem in India. This final paper of the series articulates crucial aspects identified against each theme, providing insights and recommendations for stakeholders across the DRE spectrum. All the papers in this series are essentially thinking and working papers. Readers are welcome to provide feedback, which will help inform and also shape future strategies.

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