Netherlands-based global off-grid solar energy body Gogla has published a report highlighting huge potential for solar-powered refrigeration products in India.
The study finds off-grid solar refrigerators offer a $20.6 billion market across healthcare – for vaccine storage; households; micro enterprises; farm-gate – for fruit and vegetable storage; and dairy – for milk chillers. Of that overall opportunity, $4.3 billion could be immediately serviced by companies, Gogla said, judging by the rate of adoption of those market segments.
According to the report, recent policy impetus on cold-chain infrastructure development and increased energy demand in rural areas are among the market drivers.
The report stated PV with battery storage is a widely used technology among the solar options for refrigeration. The use of phase-change material thermal batteries is another key technology which, although capital-intensive, offers the most cost-effective option across the five market segments studied.
Despite the potentially huge market, the report found off-grid solar refrigeration is still at a nascent stage across the five segments due to high upfront capital costs and lack of awareness about the technology among consumers and finance bodies.
The Gogla study emphasized the need for enabling policy and a supportive market and financial ecosystem, with targeted interventions for off-grid solar refrigeration.
The government should design targeted policies for off-grid solar refrigeration with specific targets, said Gogla. Promoting awareness about product testing methods and performance metrics for off-grid solar fridge technologies would help improve consumer and lender confidence, the report stated, before proposing tax incentives and financial assistance for manufacturers.
Companies could play their part by introducing innovative business models such as ‘cooling-as-a-service’ and leasing, to improve the affordability of solar refrigerators, especially for the farm-gate and dairy segments of the market. Cooling-as-a-service would involve large entities such as farming groups or big dairies buying the equipment and charging farmers based on their on-demand use of the solar fridges.
In the rental or leasing model, companies provide refrigerators to farmers at a fixed monthly rent with ownership of the fridges transferred after the lease period.
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