How TERI is Transforming Solar in India

Like many countries around the world, governments tend to be slow getting necessary protocols through. Even if evidence proves a positive good for the health and happiness of a nation, often it just takes a push in the right direction to get the gears in motion. The advancements with solar PV in India are not only a shining example to the world (including the United States), but also it helps shed light on the positives of solar power.

TERI, the Energy Resource Institute, one of the greatest and most influential actors in the advocacy campaign for solar power in India has made several powerful and interesting advancements over the years. The following are a list of only several of the many ongoing and completed projects TERI created in India and a brief explanation of them.

TERI’s Lighting a Billion Lives campaign LaBL: “Since its launch, LaBL has illuminated around 30,000 households spread over 550 villages across 15 Indian states. Solar lanterns are recharged at a village solar charging station and rented out to the villagers at a daily nominal cost. These charging stations, while ensuring quality services at affordable rate, also provide green jobs to local people who manage these stations; besides helping reduce consumption of subsidized kerosene substantially.”

Pilot Project on solar PV based hybrid charging station for e-bikes: “The proposed solar PV based hybrid charging station for e-bikes would consist of installed solar PV array in conjunction with grid and necessary charge controllers for charging the e-bikes. In addition the hybrid system would also have the option to charge buffer batteries for other applications. The objectives of the project are (a) Design and development of solar PV based hybrid charging station for e-bikes, (b) Field testing and customization of the charging station, (c) Finding roadmap for commercialization of such activity.To take this initiative ahead, TERI has formed a consortium with ST Micro electronics, Moser Baer and Ultra motors. Two e-bikes for this project will be supplied by Ultra motors and solar PV will be supplied by Moser Baer. TERI will jointly develop electronics with ST Micro electronics and the required electronics will be supplied by them.”

Training Course for Rural Communities: “As part of the ITEC (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation)/SCAAP (Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme) of the Government of India, TERI, for the second consecutive year, conducted a 3-week Course titled ‘Designing and Implementing Solar Energy based Livelihood Projects for Rural Communities’ in New Delhi from 12 September to 30 September 2011.The objective of the course was to build the capacity of organizations and individuals from developing countries, enabling them to apply the enhanced knowledge and skills in large-scale generation of sustainable livelihoods utilizing solar technology.”

For a list of all projects TERI has implemented and continues in implement in India please click the following link:


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Solar PV in India

This post will focus specifically on India’s current rate of energy consumption and the actors focused on utilizing solar PV in India. The next post will focus more on the changes these actors recently made to the energy sector and how that will effect India in the long run.

Currently India is perhaps the best country suited for solar PV implementation based solely on geographic location.

This resource is overwhelming, yet currently India is using less and 1% of this energy potential. Up until very recently, India has had major difficulties attempting to overcome government policies. Another major setback the India faces with solar PV is land-use. Currently India ranks high on the population scale and although their economy is beginning to boom, it can be hard to convince people to invest their land into a energy source that until recently was very expensive. Solar power through India’s perspective seemed a unlikely possibility.

Of course dealing with the government policies is solar PV biggest obstacle to overcome. According to a article by Barbara Harriss-White, Sunali Rohra, and Nigel Singh, ”In India, energy was nationalised before and during the Emergency in the 1970s. It is a state responsibility under the more or less formal direction of the central government. Like agriculture, energy is a “policy theme” scattered throughout many state bodies, and organised differently in different states. Each state also has a range of public corporations and development agencies concerned with energy and/or with renewable energy, though state electricity boards have no interests in off-grid technology. As in agriculture, direct participation is inextricably entangled with those of parametric regulation. The political architecture of solar energy has formidable coordination costs.” Some of the major actors in this advocacy campaign are, Clinton Global Initiative and The Energy and Resources Institute’s (TERI) campaign with Tata BP. These groups work tirelessly to use information politics and leverage politics to help promote the purchase of and use of solar technology in India. TERI specifically used information politics in order to enlighten India on the growing problem of climate change and its environmental affects, “TERI is paradigmatic, headed by the Nobel Laureate, Rajendra Pachauri. TERI evolved from being a Tata-funded institute to a multi-sourced one. Working with 800 staff on ‘every aspect of sustainable development’, it produced some 218 publications in 2007-08 of which four were explicitly on solar energy.”

These actors and many more like them have actually made substantial headway in the solar PV industry in India. The next post will focus on what changes were made and how these actors got the government involved in the progress. So in other words, to be continued….

For more information on the solar PV campaign in India please refer to the following sources:

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In Focus: Solar PV Growth in India

In a rapidly growing economy, with a rapidly increasing population, nothing is more important that establishing energy policies to be carried out over the course of several years. For instance, Germany has recently released news of their commitment to converting to 100% renewable energy by, 2050. The most important counties that pose the greatest threat to climate change, are China and India, “Total net electricity generation in non-OECD countries increases by an average of 3.3 percent per year…led by non-OECD Asia (including China and India).” While China has been a growing supporter of renewable energy, particularly solar PV, India seems to have been lagging behind dramatically. If you take a look at the graph in my previous post, you will see India was nowhere to be found. Up until very recently, India had a strong resistance to solar PV, but now it’s projected to grow dramatically.

With all the information provided in this blog and many other resources, the average person can tell that solar PV has a sustainable future and is certainly an economically feasible resource, so what set India apart? The next few posts will tackle this question and explore the major advances India has recently taken and the setbacks India has gone through in the solar PV industry. Particularly, this blog will examine how recent advocacy campaigns in India successfully used leverage politics to gain a stronghold in the country, and perhaps we in the United States can learn from their example.

For further reading, please click the links below:

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How Renewable is Solar PV?

There are many reasons why solar PV attracts so much attention. The biggest of all perhaps being that it is quite environmentally friendly. Across the globe many countries are attempting to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, respond to climate change, and conserve depleting fossils fuels. These countries try this in numerous ways to discover which alternative energy source has the most advantages and least disadvantages; and solar PV is most definitely in the running. Considered as a renewable energy source, solar PV depends mainly on the energy given by the sun’s rays. Some argue that solar PV isn’t entirely renewable because in order to harness this great power scientists have built solar cells using silicone a technically nonrenewable resource. This is somewhat of an exaggeration since, although, it is nonrenewable; it “is the second most common element in the Earth’s crust, comprising 25.7% of the Earth’s crust by weight.” This makes it a very attractive source of energy to produce, not to mention silicon is a nontoxic element, unlike others used for energy, such as uranium.

After cell production, solar PV is entirely environmentally friendly. Not only is it a quiet energy producer, but also it does not emit a single air pollutant. During production however, solar PV does emit a negligible amount of greenhouse gases. According to Environmental Science & Technology, “replacing grid electricity with central PV systems presents significant environmental benefits, which…amounts to 89–98% reductions of GHG emissions, criteria pollutants, heavy metals, and radioactive species.” These are very attractive numbers for countries looking to reduce their GHG emissions. The solar PV cells made of silicon also are extremely durable, most of which can last up to 30 years, and many companies even give a 25-year warranty. This means that replacement of solar PV cells annually would be minimal compared to the upkeep and maintenance of numerous other energy sources, like that of coal. Another beneficial aspect of the cells being made of silicon is the fact that they can be recycled, just like glass, at the end of their lifespan.

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The Future of Solar PV

Solar PV is going up against some of the biggest industries in the energy market, such as: coal, natural gas, and oil. These industries have been around for quite some time, but the sun is finally setting on their reign, and rising for renewables. The big questions that come to mind are, when and how? Technology and cost aren’t the only things battling against solar PV, politics and economics always play a major role, especially in the energy sector. The good news is that many governments are already employing solar PV as part of their annual agenda. According to the EIA, “The global PV market has experienced vibrant growth for more than a decade with an average annual growth rate of 40%.”[i]This rate will not continue to be this dramatic in the upcoming future; however, it will continue to increase. Receiving global recognition, solar PV continues to attract investors, especially funding from the government. In the United States, the Department of Energy has released plans to facilitate making solar PV more cost competitive against other leading energy sources.[ii] Most importantly, countries going through a 21st century industrial revolution, such as China, India, and Brazil, have started campaigns working toward a solar PV growth policy.[iii]

[i] International Energy Agency. Renewable Energy Division. Technology Roadmap Solar Photovoltaic Energy. Paris: OECD/IEA, 2010. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. <>

[ii] International Energy Agency. Renewable Energy Division. Technology Roadmap Solar Photovoltaic Energy. Paris: OECD/IEA, 2010. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. <>

[iii] International Energy Agency. Renewable Energy Division. Technology Roadmap Solar Photovoltaic Energy. Paris: OECD/IEA, 2010. Web. 01 Mar. 2012. <>

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