India's Villages are embracing the Solar Power more readily than its cities

If you have a chance to pass through a rural area in India, you will be surprised to see the number of solar installations being used in homes and fields. On the other hand, there are not many to be found where you would expect them to be, in the cities that is.

The concept of creating decentralized micro-grids to make people self-sufficient in electric power has been floating around for a while now. In a recent visit to a village about 150 kilometers from the National Capital Region, the writer was surprised to learn about households there using on-grid solar power.

Compared to Indian cities, the villages are much savvier in using solar technology to their advantage. There are several reasons at play here. For one, home solar installations require open spaces, which is more readily available in a rural setting than in urban areas where rooftop access is limited. Another reason is the farm and rural subsidy schemes which offer higher compensation for taking the solar initiative. Lastly, the more prominent marketing channels for solar schemes in the rural areas and the more aware rural psyche which is perennially tuned to look for more economical ways of sustenance.

In cities, people are aware about solar heaters and other appliance based solar technologies, but the rooftop solar has some catching up to do. There are a few things that can be done by the government, such as,

  • Promoting solar through channels which urban users interact with. For example, a rural user generally finds about the subsidy schemes through Gram Panchayats, local co-operatives, or Beej Stores. Similar measures for the urban population can be promoted by utilising the online marketing space where most of the urban population is present.
  • By offering better incentives for rooftop solar in Delhi NCR and similar areas where people from all over the country are present, the solar penetration can be significantly boosted.
  • A setting of norms for solar installations will also make the prospect of adopting solar more lucrative for urban homeowners. Right now, the market suffers from a -chaotic mix of solar providers, most of which lack the quality and expertise required to make solar work in the limited roof space of urban homes. Stories of failure discourage urban buyers from investing in solar.
  • A balance between urban and rural solar adoption might be the next thing to aim for in India. It will significantly reduce the burden on state run electricity suppliers and bring economic prosperity as well, since the tariffs are higher in urban areas which will translate into more savings for a homeowner.

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