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Sustainable Energy Solutions to Reduce Poverty in Rural India “GRAMYA SHAKTI”

Gramya Shakti uses short feasibility studies, reports from the field to plan and implement its projects. In many cases, short duration pilot projects are carried to test or fine tune an idea. For example, before opening a unit office on a new site, GS carries out a short feasibility study to find out the market potential of Solar Home Systems (SHSs) on the new site and whether it would be financially viable to open a new unit office there. Field staff focus on the following when carrying out their analysis:

  1. No possibility of grid coverage in the near future (5 to 10 years) 
  2. Interested of people in SHSs
  3. Purchasing capacity of prospective buyers/customers; and finally
  4. Total demand to ensure a operation of unit office on a sustainable basis, i.e. there would be at least 1000 customers over the next three years.

Over the years, GS has developed in-depth understanding of the rural market. This has been achieved through continuous gathering of data through its wide network of field staffs and unit offices. These extensive data helps GS to develop new products and programmes as well as fine tune its existing programmes. For example, one of the surveys carried out by GS, showed that there was a potential market for new devices such as DC-DC converters, safety devices for black & white television sets, solar powered mobile phones, micro-utility models etc. Later, GS developed these products in response to client needs.

Communities & Women Involvement in Renewal Energy Technology implementation by “ GRAMYA SHAKTI “ in Rural India.

Involvement of the local community is vital for the successful operation of Gramya Shakti (GS) renewable energy programme. Right from setting-up the GS gives local communities control over solar installations in their areas. This is achieved by GS working with teachers, community leaders and elected officials, who are explained the benefits of the solar home systems to the people they represent. Another important aspect of the local involvement is the manufacture, repair and maintenance of solar accessories close to the communities that are served by GS, by people who are familiar with their needs. The main focus of GS is women who are always involved with its various programmes. For instance, women from end-user families have been trained as technicians by GS staff so that they can take care of the day-to day maintenance of their Solar PV systems.

From experience GS has learnt that it is more viable to train women than men as the men are in jobs outside their homes. Moreover, women technicians would find it easier to enter the ‘End Users’ homes when the only members available are women-folks as their men-folks are working outside their village. GS has also facilitated empowerment of women by providing them opportunities to earn their livelihood through business ventures such as solar powered mobile phones, home based poultry, handicraft businesses etc .

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