Off-grid Solar Power in Rural India

From February 15-17, 2015, India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy hosted the first Renewable Energy Global Investors Meet & Expo (RE-Invest) in New Delhi.  The event is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plan to dramatically increase renewable energy investments in India, setting a target of $100 billion to be invested in solar power alone by the year 2022.  The government hopes to increase the nation’s solar capacity to over 10% of its total energy production in order to provide power to more citizens and reduce dependence on coal and other polluting and non-renewable fossil fuels.


NPR News also reported on February 17 that India’s large rural population, living in small towns and villages not connected to electric grids, sees solar as a key component of its energy future.  Where electricity is unavailable, residents most often rely on burning wood, kerosene, or biomass for light and vital tasks like cooking.  The fumes from these materials are harmful to both the environment and to people, causing major health problems among those exposed to them over time.  Solar has become a popular alternative option for those rural residents who can get photovoltaic panels or products like SELCO Solar India’s $200 solar generator.  


The Global Innovation Commons (GIC) contains repositories of public domain innovation that can contribute to India’s quest to be producing at least 100,000 megawatts of solar power just seven years from now.  The GIC has recorded nearly 9,500 patents with no legal protection in India which contain knowledge useful for developing and implementing solar energy technologies.  These technologies are public domain and open for anyone to use in India under the terms of the GIC framework.


View the GIC’s sets on Solar energy by country here:


In light of the RE-Invest expo, SELCO Solar India’s chairman, Dr. H Harish Hande, told NPR’s Julie McCarthy in an interview that “India’s rural poor are not looking for sympathy; they are looking for a partner.”  The Global Innovation Commons makes transformative technologies accessible by connecting abundances of knowledge with people around the world who seek to solve problems of scarcity.  Working under this framework, anyone can be a partner to anyone worldwide.



Busvine, Douglas and Tom Hogue, ed. “India’s Modi raises solar investment target to $100 bln by 2022.” Reuters. 2 Jan. 2015.

McCarthy, Julie. “Solar Energy May Light The Way For Villagers Not On India’s Grid.” NPR News. 17 Feb. 2015.

Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India. “About RE-Invest 2015.” RE-Invest.

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