Ministry drafts policy for rural solar appliance roll-out

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The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has proposed a policy to ramp up deployment of solar-powered devices across the nation.

The ministry is keen to drive the adoption of devices such as PV-powered dryers, cold storage and charkhas (cotton-spinning wheels), as well as solar lighting systems, with all such applications coming under the umbrella term ‘distributed renewable energy – DRE – livelihood applications’.

The government department noted various agencies had successfully tested such solar devices in sectors including agriculture, agro-processing, dairy, poultry, fisheries, and tailoring but said their roll-out accounted for a tiny fraction of such appliances across the country’s 600,000 villages.

Interventions

The MNRE has suggested standards be drawn up to help determine demand and guide pilot projects and field demonstrations of livelihood devices. The ministry also said easy access to finance and skills development at a local level would strengthen provision of the appliances.

“Collective efforts by key actors are required to identify, develop and promote appropriate DRE livelihood applications through multi-disciplinary research and innovation,” stated the draft policy. “Therefore, institutions of [the] MNRE, as well as other ministries and state-level institutions, will help in the development of new devices and applications for the rural economy. Besides, the private sector, technology incubation centers, bilateral and multilateral agencies and NGOs will participate in … research and development activities.”

Community organizations would also be engaged to test innovative solutions on the ground, under the planned MNRE policy.

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