Council on Energy, Environment and Water Integrated | International | Independent

RE+ Renewables Beyond Electricity

Rishabh Jain, Poulami Choudhury, Rajeev Palakshappa, Arunabha Ghosh
December 2013 | Renewables

Suggested Citation: Jain, Rishabh, Poulami Choudhury, Rajeev Palakshappa, and Arunabha Ghosh. 2013. RE+: Renewables Beyond. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water and World Wide Fund for Nature.


This report, in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature, is a compendium of innovative renewable applications, pilot projects, and pioneering efforts in technology and business models in India. The 14 different renewable energy applications examined include biogas digesters, solar space heating, and cooling system, solar photovoltaic water pump, solar water purifiers etc. It also documents case studies of actual applications on the ground, which may help for a better understanding of renewable energy applications.

This report is followed by RE+: Renewables Beyond Electricity - Solar Air Conditioning & Desalination in India, which identifies areas of intervention and highlights steps to facilitate large-scale deployment of these two technologies in India.

Saving if 5 million solar pumps are installed

Source: CEEW calculation

Key Highlights

  • The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is promoting solar thermal water heaters through many financial incentives. Many state governments have started providing benefits to those who deploy solar-based technologies for water heating.
  • Desalination systems powered by solar energy are the most commonly used renewable energy desalination plants in India.
  • Wind powered desalination is a good alternative for India’s coastal areas due to the high availability of wind resources in Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka.
  • Solar pasteurisation can play an important role in reducing dependency on fossil fuels for heating, as India is the largest producer of milk.
  • States such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have favourable conditions for large-scale implementation of concentrated solar pasteurisation system.
  • Solar-powered water purifiers are eco-friendly, enable consumers to save on electricity and are particularly beneficial in areas/regions which do not have access to grid electricity and face water scarcity.
  • Market potential for solar cooling segment in India is around 1.3 lakh square metres of collector area (INR 200 crore). However, it’s usage is at a very nascent stage because of market ecosystem such as economics of cost.
  • Solar cooker application is rapidly rising as a safe, clean and economically viable cooking technology, which is expected to be an alternative for LPG cooking stoves and fire-wood.
  • Solar PV water pumping system can play an important role in reducing carbon emissions and increase access of groundwater to farmers. However, high upfront costs pose a major challenge for acceptance of solar water pumping system.

Key Recommendations

  • Make RE technologies ultra-reliable so that they run unattended for most of the time, only requiring annual maintenance without any major replacements.
  • Create awareness and understanding about RE technology applications, especially amongst farmers/consumers living in states which have favourable conditions for their deployment.
  • Make supply and distribution chains smooth as they pose a barrier in widespread acceptability and scaling up of RE technologies such as biomass-based cooking stoves, biogas digesters, solar-air conditions, and solar heaters in India.
  • Reduce the high cost of initial investment and expensive repairs for these RE technologies as it is considered to be the most severe economic constraint.

Renewable energy is being explored extensively as a potential source for reliable and secure power supply, although there is an urgent need for a more robust financing ecosystem to channel more investments in grid-connected projects.

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