Number of women entrepreneurs in rural solar projects rising

Kolkata, April 3 (IANS) More and more women are taking up an active entrepreneurial role in solar power projects at the grass roots in India, says The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) director general Ajay Mathur.

“It’s happening… the trend seems to be that way… more and more women entrepreneurs are coming into the projects involving solar power at the grass roots,” Mathur told IANS on the sidelines of an event here recently.

As example, Mathur cited the institute’s ‘Lighting a Billion Lives’ campaign where men initially took up entrepreneurship.

“It (the programme) was about providing solar-based solutions to homes, but very soon we realised we could not get into every home in the country. What we started doing was training entrepreneurs in villages… initially, it was men but increasingly women entrepreneurs were coming into this area. Secondly, even when entrepreneurs were men, they were selling largely to women,” noted Mathur.

Advocating introduction and promotion of new technologies to meet India’s climate change mitigation goals, Mathur highlighted the importance and challenges of other trends in alternative energy scenario in India, such as nanotechnology-based devices etc.

“The scope is very large. The challenge is to convert science ideas into something that works… we could see that it works. The second is that piece has to be available at costs that you and I are willing to pay.”

“So, there is a science part, technology part. And in between, there is playing around by manufactures to see if the technology is reliable, it is easy to manufacture and prices come down,” explained Mathur, the spokesperson for the Indian delegation at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (CoP 21).

These are markets that are growing, Mathur observed, stressing on the link between growing markets and reduced costs.

“As markets grow, competitions will increase and due to that, these kind of ideas are what will bring the prices down.”

Asked about the energy mix and solutions for north-east India, Mathur laid emphasis on efficient wood-based technologies.

“…because of distribution problems, we believe more efficient wood-based technologies are required. Instead of burning wood directly (with 10 to 15 percent efficiency) you convert it into gas… then you burn the gas. Gas burns with very high efficiency.,” he said.

Mathur added, “There is a loss when you convert wood into gas but the overall efficiency is still 60 percent as opposed to 10 to 15 percent. We believe that is where the largest amount of effort has to be given.”

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