Low-cost solar solutions light thousands of homes in India

Last April, India’s Energy Minister PiyushGoyal announced it is now less costly to produce electricity from the sun than from coal in the country.

According to the World Energy Outlook 2016, 244 million people in India do not have access to electricity despite the country being the world’s fourth largest user of electricity.

Energy provider, MeraGao Power (MGP) – notably funded by USAID and ENgie – provides solar-powered lighting and mobile phone charging services for under a dollar per week.

Nikhil Jaisinghani, Co-Founder of MGP, said: “People are concerned not about the emissions from a coal power plant but the emissions from kerosene lanterns in their homes. What really helps them is that the lights we provide are brighter, they can charge their phones in their homes, and save money”.

In 2016, MGP won the Solar For All award – a competition for innovative solar solutions – for providing lighting to over 150,000 people in 1,500 off-grid villages in the northern Indian state, Uttar Pradesh.

MGP’s single micro-grid costs around $900 and is capable of serving 30 households.

The idea behind enterprises like MGP is to create a business model that will enable millions in India to bypass the coal-dependent grid and utilise renewable energy sources.

As the third-largest emitter of greenhouses gases and its economic growth being intertwined with the energy sector, renewables are essential to India’s sustainable growth.

To this end, India has invested more than $14 billion in generating 40 GW of clean energy, in order to exceed its renewable energy targets.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, India committed to source 40 per cent of its electricity from non-fossil fuels by 2030; the country now plans to source 57 per cent by 2027.

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