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Energy Innovations For Livelihoods

How can clean energy contribute to increasing incomes of rural India? How can productive applications of clean energy be prioritised? What kind of ecosystem support is required to create and nurture such innovations?

The Council’s research on energy innovations for livelihoods aims to answer these pertinent questions and boost India’s rural farm and non-farm economy by leveraging clean energy innovations.

According to the National Sample Survey (2015-16), 4.3 million rural micro-enterprises in India mention lack of reliable electricity among the top two challenges faced. The market potential for clean energy innovations in India’s farm and non-farm sector is USD 41 billion and USD 13 billion respectively. However, currently only around 20 clean energy innovations for productive use can be found in India. Our research aims to maximise the role of clean energy as a catalyst for increasing rural incomes.


Energy For Community Well-Being

Worldwide there is a growing recognition of the role of energy access in the last mile delivery of community well-being services such as primary education and primary healthcare. However, in India energy access has had a strong household-level focus while its role as an enabler of better health and education services has not gained enough attention.

Evaluating the role of energy access in education and healthcare, the role of decentralised solar power in improving healthcare outcomes at PHCs, undertaking joint pilots to study the design and evaluate the ideal solar-powered PHC comprises the research and evaluation work being covered in this programme. The Council’s research on energy for community well-being focuses on the role of energy access as an enabler of better healthcare and education. In 2017, our team evaluated 147 primary healthcare centres (PHCs) in the state of Chhattisgarh, including 83 solar-powered ones, to understand the role of electricity access in rural healthcare. Our team believes that scaling up solar-powered PHCs could help meet the multisectoral goals of energy access, energy security, resource management, and better health.

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Solar for IrrigationA Comparative Assessment of Deployment Strategies

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January 2018 |

Citation: Anne Raymond and Abhishek Jain (2018) 'Solar for Irrigation: A Comparative Assessment of Deployment Strategies', January



Solar pumps, having emerged as an alternative to conventional pumps, can improve access to sustainable irrigation for farmers in India. Despite the significant subsidies by the central and state governments, the adoption rate of solar pumps has been slow, raising the need to research into alternative strategies to promote adoption of solar-powered irrigation systems.

This report explores economically attractive approaches – from both the farmers’ as well as the government’s perspectives – to promote the adoption of solar pumps, and to assess the sensitivity of economic outcomes to variations in conditions across the country.

A solar pump (Shalu Agrawal)

A solar pump (Shalu Agrawal

The report was released by Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, during the National Dialogue ‘Solar for Irrigation in India’, organised by The Council, the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation at India Habitat Centre on 18 January 2018.

Mr. Amitabh Kant delivers the keynote address at the National Dialogue ‘Solar for Irrigation in India’ at India Habitat Centre on 18 January 2018

Source: CEEW

Key Findings

  • Connecting solar pumps to the electric grid is expensive for the government and benefits farmers lesser than subsidies for the purchase of solar pumps.
  • Farmers awaiting an electric connection for long or those who are unlikely to get an electric connection may find solar attractive at even 30 per cent subsidy, provided affordable financing is available.
  • Water-as-a-service using solar pumps by village level entrepreneurs is a promising model to improve both the utilisation of solar pumps, and provide irrigation access to marginal farmers.
  • Promoting solar pumps through interest rate subvention, rather than capital subsidy, improves the viability of rapid pump deployment from the government’s perspective, and can benefit farmers by supporting greater access to solar pumps to more people at a faster pace.

Key Recommendations

  • Target farmers planning greater numbers of cropping cycles, or having more irrigation days each year, under individual ownership model of solar pumps.
  • Focus on farmers currently deprived of grid connections under individually owned solar pump deployment.
  • Provide interest-free loans to farmers with reduced capital subsidy to facilitate the deployment of a much larger number of solar pumps in a shorter span of time, while spreading the government cost over the term of the loan.
  • Encourage pump sharing could be an opportunity for the government to increase the utilisation of solar pumps as well as the impact of government support while creating a market-based solution to ensure efficient and judicious use of groundwater.
Connecting solar pumps to the electric grid is expensive for the government and benefits farmers lesser than subsidies for the purchase of solar pumps.

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Adopting Solar for IrrigationFarmers’ Perspectives from Uttar Pradesh

January 2018 |

Citation: Abhishek Jain and Tauseef Shahidi (2018) 'Adopting Solar for Irrigation: Farmers' Perspectives from Uttar Pradesh', January



One of the biggest bottlenecks in increasing agricultural productivity in India is the lack of reliable access to irrigation. In recent years, solar pumps have emerged as an alternative to conventional pumps, filling in gaps of unreliable supply to electric pumps, and high fuel costs in running diesel pumps.

This report focuses on farmers’ awareness of solar pumps, their interest in adopting them under different deployment models, and their willingness-to-pay to own a solar pump. The report is based on a primary survey and focused group discussions, covering more than 1600 farmers in 160 villages across 10 districts of Uttar Pradesh. The following districts were a part of the survey: Bijnor, Bulandshahr, Chandauli, Chitrakoot, Gorakhpur, Kannauj, Kasganj/ Kansiram Nagar, Lalitpur, Shahjahanpur, and Sitapur. Till January 2018, over 10,000 solar pumps had been deployed across the state.

Our researchers on the ground (CEEW)

The report was released by Mr Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, during the National Dialogue on ‘Solar for Irrigation in India’ organised by CEEW, the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation, and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation on 18 January 2018.

Mr Amitabh Kant looks at a mobile solar pump installation at the National Dialogue on ‘Solar for Irrigation in India’ (Source: CEEW)

Key Findings

  • Fifty-five per cent of the farmers surveyed mention insufficient irrigation as the biggest bottleneck to increasing incomes from farming. Moreover, 30 per cent of the farmers also reported limited water availability for irrigation as a challenge.
  • Sixty per cent of marginal farmers depend on buying water, the costliest option for irrigation, or renting pumps to meet their needs.
  • While 86 per cent of farmers reported having irrigation access on all sections of their land, only 51 per cent of them were satisfied with their current irrigation situation. Depleting water tables, and high expenditures on diesel were two major reasons behind farmers’ dissatisfaction.
  • Only 27 per cent of farmers have heard of Solar-powered Irrigation Systems (SPIS), 14 per cent of them have seen solar pumps in reality or on television, and only two per cent of them have heard about the government schemes on solar pumps.
  • About 41 per cent of farmers were interested in adopting solar pumps. Zero operational cost and convenience of use were the main reasons behind farmers’ interest in adopting solar pumps. Whereas, high capital cost was the main reason behind those not interested in adopting one.

No operational cost and convenience of use of solar pumps encourage its adoption

No operational cost and convenience of use of solar pumps encourage its adoption (Authors’ analysis)

Key Recommendations

  • Focus on awareness generation and technology demonstration is crucial. Deploy at least five solar pumps in each block of the country, prioritising regions with better groundwater availability, to enable demonstration effect to yield bottom-up demand.
  • Improve targeting of prevailing government support schemes on solar pumps. Focus on marginal farmers by promoting smaller (sub-HP to 3HP) solar pumps through capital subsidy. For larger pumps, focus on strengthening the financial ecosystem rather than offering capital subsidy support, which mainly benefits medium and large farmers.
  • Encourage innovative deployment approaches such as solar-powered water-as-a-service model, and the joint-ownership model to cater to marginal farmers, who otherwise are not interested to own solar pumps due to high upfront cost, and limited irrigation needs.
  • Develop financial products suitable for farmers’ needs. Banks and financial institutions to simplify and standardise processes, and provide proactive support to avoid customer harassment during loan applications.
  • Consider the pattern of borewell ownership while framing policies supporting solar pumps, otherwise the targeting of policy support could remain significantly skewed towards medium and large farmers.
A customer-centric approach coupled with greater focus on marginal farmers is crucial to scaling-up solar-powered irrigation systems in Uttar Pradesh.

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Enhanced Transparency Framework in the Paris AgreementPerspective of Parties

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April 2018 |

Citation: Sumit Prasad, Karthik Ganesan, and Vaibhav Gupta (2017) 'Enhanced Transparency Framework in the Paris Agreement: Perspective of Parties', May



One of the important objectives of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the transparency regime for climate change action. This paper, part of The Council’s ongoing work on climate negotiations, which analyses and categorises the positions of the Parties with respect to the various provisions of transparency under three broad umbrellas (Approach 1, Approach 2 and Approach 3).

There is a call for increased transparency of actions and support, of reporting and review, and a multilateral consideration process and corresponding flexibilities to developing country Parties. With firm deadlines associated with its mandate, the Ad hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA) will need to work closely with Parties to arrive at a consensus on the new regime.

Source: CEEW Analysis

Key Highlights

  • The various provisions of transparency are listed under Article 13, collectively referred to as the modalities, procedures & guidelines (MPGs) of transparency.
  • Developed country Parties view transparency with a single lens - common MPGs for both developed and developing Parties
  • Parties like India, China and members of the like-minded developing countries (LMDC) express that differentiation in MPG is fundamental to the transparency framework.
  • China proposes a minimum transparency (threshold) requirement for developing Parties with a balanced approach towards transparency of action and transparency of support.
  • India suggests that only loopholes need to be plugged without overhauling the existing regime. However, it stops short of detailing these loopholes or making specific provisions.

A comprehensive and balanced approach towards transparency needs to be established for effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

  • Views on flexibility among the Parties are not mutually exclusive and have some overlapping elements.
  • USA has defined a decision tree to decide flexibility via a series of questions.
  • China, Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay define flexibility as having an option to choose based on preferences and national circumstances.
  • Australia requires Parties to articulate the rationale for availing flexibility, so that deviation from the common.
  • The APA needs to identify a comprehensive and balanced approach that would eventually lead to a system that allows for an effective implementation of the Paris Agreement and an equally effective transparency regime that identifies opportunities and pitfalls in the implementation.
With the complexity and breadth of challenges associated with transparency, Parties have interpreted the provisions of transparency in the Paris Agreement in several ways.

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