As we reach the end of the first decade in the 21st Century, about one third of the world’s population still has no access to electricity, says Harish Hande.
Harish argues that poor people should be at the centre of sustainable energy policies, not on the end of handouts and has set up his own company called Harish Hande SELCO Solar Light to do exactly that.
Many of the conversations in the WEF were focussed around the need for solutions for the developing world, relatively few were aimed at solving finance of these solutions.
Apparently there is more than enough money out there, but the global north is scared of pledging it to the global south without strings attached.
Well Harish has part of the answer with his new company called SELCO which has pioneered access to rural solar electrification for below poverty line families through a combination of customized sustainable energy services (like lighting and cooking etc) in tandem with innovative doorstep financing.
Around 57% of the Indian population does not have electricity and for many more, the supply is unreliable. In addition, those living on less than $2 a day in India annually produce close to a billion tons in CO2 emissions showing that the developing markets must be addressed with the issue of climate change.
SELCO have developed a business based on three basic understandings – the poor can afford sustainable technologies; the poor can maintain sustainable technologies; users want run commercially viable venture serving the needs of the community.
The core business of SELCO is the sale and financing of solar-home-systems that provide lighting but also are suitable for radios, fans and income generating activities.
SELCO works with banks and MFIs to create financing mechanisms that suit the cash flow of the client. For example, a user will pay a small down payment and then pay monthly installments of 150 to 350 Rs over three to five years. The user can pay from extra income brought in from additional work made possible with the energy intervention and savings from eliminating costly fossil fuels with customized payment schedules.
The end result of this initiative apart from providing decentralized, green power is the creation sustainable energy service-related businesses and entrepreneurs.
It seems to me that it is essential that solutions like this are promoted in tandem with other larger infrastructure solutions. Better to get de-centralised renewables out there in a responsible way that initiate development rather than paying a big company to put in a power infrastructure that just locks people into a corporate monopoly!
There were many of ideas that rivalled for my ‘best of the bunch’ but I am going to focus on a single one and develop my thinking for it a bit more. My thoughts are still in their infancy and need much development, and so you will have to forgive me for the myriad of gaps.
The Green Economy - A Club of Nations and Cities
In short this would comprise a club of nations and cities who have signed up to a set of principles and rules but in return get access to a range of environmental financial and social benefits.
The goals would be visionary but simple.
To get into the club, a nation or city must agree to abide by a set of rules. These rules and indicators will be progressive and enforceable over time and if not met, the nation or city will be excluded. There will be a set of pre-requsite requirements to get in such as; not at war; not a dictatorship (will need careful thought to ensure inclusiveness but not so low as to discredit the group)
Nations will need to agree to independent measurement and verification. An index will be developed identifying the best and the worst.
Rewards and access to benefits that will be awarded according to the index of performance and progress to meeting goals.
Economies to strive towards
· 100% renewable energy
· 100% clean water
· All materials and waste to be 100% recyclable or reusable
· All products and materials safe and clean
· Social equity
· Net positive biodiversity
We will need to establish an index and many issues will need to be covered including
· Net Carbon emissions
· % renewables
· % clean water
· Environmental management
· Land ownership and laws
· Political stability
· Gender issues
· Planning laws
To name but a few (Wow this is getting complex!!)
Benefits will come in the form of access to services, technology and preferential finance. Examples of these are follows
· Cheap money, preferential loans
· Emerging technologies
· Investment opportunities
· Education facilities
· Carbon sinks
In some ways this proposal is very similar to some of the other initiatives that are already out there, but differ in two key areas. The first is that all nations and cities would have to produce and work to a carbon action plan that delivers a low carbon and green economy. The second and most important of all, would be the benefits that would accrue including access to ‘green funding’ at preferential rates (quick funds), access to IP and technology and access to broader learning and education. A particular goal of the club would be to foster partnerships across nations and cities.
Thoughts and Comments?