Solar energy expo seeks lighting
solution to rural India
Feb 6, 2010 - Xinhua
A four-day solar energy expo has been running since
Thursday in the Indian capital, highlighting the "dark"
situation especially in rural India and proposing
" light'solution through solar energy.
Held on the sidelines of the Delhi Sustainable Development
Summit, about 34 participants at the expo were displaying
a wide range of solar-based energy appliances, including
lanterns of various shapes and sizes.
The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) of India
which took upon itself to light up one billion lives
around the globe, including India, Indonesia, Cambodia
About 1.5 billion population of the world is without
electricity, according to an estimate. And a quarter
of it resides in India. They either use wood or kerosene
oil to light their houses and for cooking purposes
-- affecting their health, environment and the climate
With more than half of its territory located in tropical
or semi-tropical zones, India is endowed with abundant
solar energy which can be fully tapped for sustainable
Therefore, TERI has been involved in providing solar
lanterns and setting up solar recharge stations in
inaccessible and least developed areas.
"It doesn't look like that in the next 10 to 20 years
these places will have any access to electricity,
because of their difficult tough geographical condition,"
said Smita Marcus, a research associate with the TERI's
project of Light A Billion Lives.
The project first started with lighting 200 households
in Kakdeep block of Sunderbans in India's eastern
state of West Bengal in 2008 and later moved to other
"So far, we have covered 9,000 households in 200
villages of 12 Indian states, "said Marcus.
After selecting a village, TERI sets up a solar recharge
station at the house of a entrepreneur who is given
lanterns to be rented out to villagers at a nominal
cost of two to three rupees ( 0.04 to 0.06 U.S. dollar)
"Each family gets a lantern which lasts about four
hours. After using it at night the lantern has to
be returned to the entrepreneur each day for recharging,"
This would help the entrepreneur to earn about 3,000
rupees (60 U.S. dollars) a month on top of traditional
earning sources. The entrepreneur in turns safeguards
the recharging stations and repairs technical faults,
if need be, and regularly recharges, all the lanterns.
Freeplay was another exhibitor which showcased its
solar power- based lamps, torches, mobile phone chargers.
The company which manufactures these items targets
the rural audience. These Freeplay items are available
between the ranges of 500 (10 U.S. dollars) and 600
(12 U.S. dollars).
"Apart from villagers, our main customers are non-government
organizations which buy lanterns to be distributed
to the needy people," said D.K. Kapoor, Sales Officer,
Among other corporate houses, Philips was also present
at the expo to showcase its solar lamps and eco-friendly
With these products, the company wants to capture
the rural market.
"About 70 percent of our population lives in rural
areas. If you want to reach them, you will have to
cater to them. We identified their needs and came
up with these products," said Pawan Deep Singh, Senior
Manager, Consumer Marketing (Rural) Strategy and Business
Development, Philips. ]
Singh believes the company products will become popular