The Centre will soon come up with a scheme that will enable people to have easy access to livelihood applications of distributed renewable energy (DRE) technology such as those using solar and wind energy. “There is already a lot of work happening on the ground and our scheme could benefit lakhs of families across the country. We will, however, need large scale-manufacturing and standardising of distributed applications of RE to lower prices and expand the sector,” said Union Power Minister RK Singh recently.
One solution to increase livelihood opportunities is to power microenterprises across India through clean energy. Energy-efficient technologies powered by decentralised renewables can help enhance the incomes and resilience of many of India’s more than 60 million microenterprises while fostering climate action.
“The government plans to make DRE livelihood equipment affordable. One aspect of this will be tying up with banks. If a family wants to own a solar dryer, they should be able to get financing from the banks – we will work towards it,” he added while speaking at the the ‘National Summit on Powering Sustainable Livelihoods’ organised today by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Villgro Innovations Foundation’s Powering Livelihoods initiative.
Two comprehensive reports, conducted by CEEW and Villgro, too were released at the Summit. It sheds light on the transformative potential of clean technologies in India’s crucial agriculture and textile sectors, with a potential to positively influence the livelihoods of 37 million individuals. This paradigm shift also translates into a remarkable market opportunity worth nearly Rs 4 lakh crore. One of the key highlights revealed by the reports is the remarkable improvement in income levels among women and farmers who have embraced clean technologies. A staggering 70 percent of these individuals reported a substantial increase in their earnings, with the average rise reaching an impressive 35 percent. These positive outcomes are attributed to the utilisation of clean-energy powered products, including solar-powered silk reeling machines, multi-food processors, micro solar pumps, and solar vertical fodder grow units. By harnessing these innovative tools, individuals are empowered to augment and diversify their sources of income.
In India, solar-powered pumps—higher capacity and micro-pumps—have the maximum deployment potential, followed by solar-powered vertical fodder growing units and solar dryers. Collectively, these four technologies alone can impact around 27 million livelihoods. Unsurprisingly, solar pumps are the most mature among these technologies due to the government programmes supporting them since 2015.
“India is among the global leaders in clean energy transition. With a programme like Powering Livelihoods, we are taking this clean energy transition to the masses and contributing to their incomes and livelihoods. By deploying more than 11,000 such technologies across India since the pandemic, we have shown the impact of clean-energy-powered livelihood technologies on enhancing and diversifying people’s incomes. In a country where a million youth reaches the working-age population every month, we need to aggressively support jobs and livelihoods,” said Abhishek Jain, Fellow and Director – Powering Livelihoods, CEEW. The reports found that clean-tech-powered technologies have the greatest impact opportunity in Uttar Pradesh, followed by West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka. But the relative market for each livelihood technology varies across states. For example, micro solar pumps have the highest market in West Bengal, whereas solar dryers have the highest market in Maharashtra. “Over a 15-year investment horizon, the clean tech product variants become more attractive than their grid alternatives. We hope that the evidence generated by this programme will motivate policymakers, financiers and manufacturers to extend support to mainstream such livelihood products,” Ananth Aravamundan, Sector Lead – Climate Action, Villgro, added.