More than two-thirds of India’s 1.25 billion population lives in rural areas, with little or no access to modern energy services. Despite the Government of India’s best efforts to address this, over 300 million people still do not have access to electricity while over 800 million still depend on traditional fuels and practices for their cooking needs (World Energy Outlook, 2014). Responding to the above situation, rural renewable energy enterprises stepped in with innovative solutions and business models. Several challenges within the off-grid ecosystem have been responsible for limiting the scale of business for enterprises. Low awareness levels among the target customers translate into limited demand for solutions provided by rural energy enterprises. Poorly developed supply chains further add to the challenges. The absence of a conducive policy and regulatory environment, inadequate access to enterprise and end user financing, lack of skilled/qualified human resources, etc. are also key barriers for the development of the off-grid sector.
The Indo-German Energy Programme – Access to Energy in Rural Areas (IGEN-ACCESS) seeks to create a conducive environment for rural renewable energy enterprises in order to make energy services easily accessible to the rural population.
Adopting a holistic approach to the development of the off-grid sector, IGEN-Access will build upon three strategic pillars: Private Sector Development and Innovation, Access to Finance and Public Support Programmes.
The IGEN-Access project is expected to yield multiple benefits at different levels:
While access to energy will improve the quality of life of the people, it will also provide new opportunities for income-generating activities. Replacing traditional fuels with modern energy under the project will benefit women and children, in particular, as they are exposed to high level of indoor pollution on a daily basis due to the use of biomass for cooking. Such initiatives will be important milestones in the project’s journey towards facilitating easy access to energy in rural India.