Surya's Promise: Scaling-Up Off-Grid Solar Technologies in India

Friday, February 12, 2016: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Coolidge (Marriott Wardman Park)
Kartikeya Singh, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Surya’s Promise: Scaling-Up Off-Grid Solar Technologies in India

India:  one of the largest single markets of people living without access to electricity in the world.  Over 300 million people in the country lack access to electricity and getting access will help them adapt to a changing climate.  Prime Minister Modi’s government has made promises to once and for all provide universal energy access to every home by 2019.  But India’s ailing electricity sector is struggling to meet a growing demand and tens of millions live in areas where the grid may never reach.  Enter the dream of decentralized solar energy technologies that can provide as little as lighting and mobile phone charging or provide sufficient energy for cooling and other productive needs.  These technologies could be supported by new government policies for solar energy (the government refined an earlier target of 20 GW by 2022 to 100 GW by 2022).  But can India put faith in the power of Surya, the Hindu sun god? Studying a growing market of entrepreneurs willing to provide energy access to the base of the pyramid population provides lessons about how these technologies are (or are not) being diffused.