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

Solar for powering health and education in India

Shalu Agrawal, Aditya Ramji
March 2016 | Energy Access

Suggested Citation: Agrawal, Shalu,  Aditya Ramji, and Hem H Dholakia. 2016. Solar for Powering Health and Education in India. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water and Oxfam India.


This background paper, written in collaboration with Oxafam India, examined the state of electricity access in Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) and rural primary schools in India – two key institutions responsible for the delivery of last mile community services in the country. It provided recommendations on how solar power can be a potential solution to bridge energy gaps in such institutions. Further, this paper analysed the potential overlaps between the National Solar Mission and health and education priorities of the country.

The study estimated that rooftop solar systems of 5kWp and 3kWp capacity could help meet 50 per cent and 70 per cent of daily and peak power requirement of PHCs and primary schools, respectively. Further, solar power solutions for PHCs and primary schools can improve the availability, reliability, and quality of power supply, besides contributing towards clean energy mix in India.

Key Findings

  • In India, 4.4 per cent of PHCs were un-electrified. About 33 million rural Indians relied on healthcare facilities have no electricity.
  • Jharkhand had the highest number of un-electrified PHCs at 42.5 per cent, followed by Uttarakhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • While only 60 per cent schools in India were electrified at the time, the share varied from 88.7 per cent in urban areas and 54.2 per cent in rural areas.
  • Every second primary school in India was un-electrified, implying that around 33 million primary students in rural India attended schools lacking any form of electricity.
  • Jharkhand had the highest percentage of un-electrified rural primary schools (less than 8 per cent electrified).
  • Approximately 90 percent of PHCs in the North-eastern state of Tripura were powered by solar energy. The Chhattisgarh government had powered 542 primary and community health centres through solar PV systems.

Key Recommendations

  • Create awareness around the importance of electricity access in schools and how solar power systems can be used to address this concern
  • Ensure electrification of public schools and PHCs as the responsibility of the education and healthcare departments of state governments, respectively.
  • Build a clear roadmap for deployment of solar PV systems and create cross-sectoral coordination between national and state level agencies.
Solar-based solutions provide an opportunity to extend reliable power supply to community centres and ensure effective delivery of community services.

Sign up for the latest on our pioneering research