India has made remarkable progress in providing access to electricity and clean cooking while implementing a range of energy interventions and integrating greater renewable energy into the grid. Over the last two decades, over half a billion Indians have gained access to electricity increasing the share of grid-electrified households from 43 per cent to almost 100 per cent.
But even with the progress made, many areas continue to be impacted due to the lack of access to reliable, sustainable and affordable electricity connections.
The resulting human and economic costs can be high: health care will remain inadequate, schools will struggle to offer quality education, and agricultural and industrial enterprises will not be competitive. Over 680 million Indian still rely on biomass and are without access to clean cooking facilities.
As India’s development story unfolds, expanding electricity access is critical to achieving sustainable and inclusive development. Decentralised renewable energy (DRE) sources like rooftop solar panels, micro or mini-grids and rechargeable batteries have shown promise in securing sustainable and equitable energy access. While while there is a large opportunity for DRE-enabled opportunities, the uptake of DRE in India has been slow. Proven DRE technologies do exist, but a key challenge is to implement business and financing models which are both profitable for DRE system providers, economically acceptable for the rural poor and attractive for return-seeking investors. An estimate indicates that India will require annual DRE investment of USD 18 billion by 2024, a 10x increase from current levels to meet its sustainable energy targets.
Supporting DRE businesses with both technical assistance and ﬁnance is crucial to realise India’s DRE potential. In addition, DRE solutions on offer have focused more on supply-side, technology-centric approaches, but we also must advance demand solutions in national and sub-national energy strategies to expand electricity access. Given the massive unrealised scale and scope of DRE in India, it is imperative that the DRE sector receives further government and institutional support.
The Energy Access for Development programme promotes clean, affordable and reliable energy access solutions that alleviate poverty and boost development and social protection. Shakti focuses on finding solutions to addressing the barriers in achieving the 3A’sof electricity—Assurance, Availability and Affordability.
Shakti collaborates with technical experts, policymakers and civil society to champion integrated clean energy priorities in the health-education-livelihoods sectors. We work with state actors and policy networks to catalyse robust policy solutions and innovative technologies to close the electricity access gap focusing on underserved and unserved communities. We promote efficient last mile 24X7 access by advancing technologies, improving community livelihoods through green entrepreneurship and mitigating climate risks through energy access.