Clean energy in a country like India will increase opportunities for stable income generation in several sectors such as animal husbandry, food processing, and more. This paradigm shift to prioritise women’s involvement in designing and using the solutions can lead us to a more inclusive approach for a better society. The cost of adopting clean technology in rural areas and various organisations partly subsidises the costs of clean technology demos and partners with microfinance institutions to provide financial support to farmers and rural communities. All clean-tech companies should ensure continuous engagement and support that will further help to maximise the utilisation of the technology. The changing macroeconomic trends, with focused contemporary policies and women-centric solutions, will help to drive positive change and acceptance within society.
Many Solar energy companies and clean-tech startups across India have ventured into this space, bringing new innovations to rural households. These startups are developing solutions for social issues ranging from drinking water crisis, agricultural issues or other problems triggered by climate change. The startup ecosystem in India is receiving support from the central as well as state governments and their initiatives, but we need more support to reduce the dependence of India’s clean energy sector on imports from other countries.
Various new schemes of the government for distributed applications of renewable energy in rural India will further validate the value of clean technology solutions and lead to wider adoption, ultimately benefiting the rural communities and value chains. There are various challenges in scaling up these accomplishments such as Novelty and a high starting price of these technologies. These clean-tech products are perceived as high-risk purchases, especially by women users. The relatively lower risk appetite of rural women due to socioeconomic reasons and limited avenues to avail financing. There is a lack of established market linkages and limited mobility/networks of women outside their villages.
In India, all the hype around renewable energy and the changes it can bring to society is mostly limited to either mega solar or wind projects or the lowering of per unit tariff achieved in auctions. Behind all these large projects, there are many people from rural India are silently working on clean energy-based solutions that also helps to bring change in the lives of the people. There are many enterprises working in this field that are focussed on solar energy for urban areas with a broader goal of reducing the dependency of the country’s import of solar products from other countries. We are still dependent on other countries such as China for several parts in the renewable energy sector and its technologies. In India, we need to promote more Made in India products and increase manufacturing hubs.
To move ahead with these clean technologies in rural areas, we need to focus more on leveraging the experience of early women adopters. We should organise hyperlocal events and demos – create spaces for women to network, and become aware. We should enable easy finance to purchase products. The funding companies should consider easing the loan application process. We should always ensure adequate after-sales services and buy-backs. We should support backward and forward market linkage – finding and connecting producers to consumption hubs in urban areas. We all should establish business models that enable the people of rural India, especially Women to sell to an intermediary to regularise revenue stream. We should take steps towards promoting livelihoods for women from State rural livelihood missions, agriculture departments, etc., must be converged. We all should leverage the reach of government institutions.
The author of this article is Tanmoy Duari, CEO, AXITEC Energy India Pvt. Ltd, a leading solar module manufacturer