MNRE Issues Amended Draft Policy for Promoting DRE Livelihood Applications

MNRE has issued a revised draft of its policy framework for developing and promoting DRE livelihood applications in rural areas of India

The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has issued a revised draft of its policy framework for developing and promoting Decentralised Renewable Energy (DRE) livelihood applications. The ministry has invited comments/suggestions from stakeholders on the draft framework with a deadline of March 23, 2021.

The driving force behind the policy framework remains the wave of innovators and entrepreneurs that have come up with a variety of DRE livelihood applications, which are not only energy-efficient but also economically viable. These include a myriad of solutions such as solar dryer, solar or biomass powered cold storage/chiller, solar charkha, etc. 

The modular design of such DRE livelihood applications ensures scalability without large investments. Besides, the Energy efficiency of such solutions is also important, as it in turn, determines their economic viability by reducing the size of the generation and storage (if required) asset. Thus, the draft policy framework is being proposed to provide a conducive environment for the development and large-scale adoption of these applications.

Need for Renewable Energy Based Livelihoods

DRE-powered livelihood solutions have the potential to reduce and eventually eliminate the reliance of livelihoods on diesel and can supplement the grid supply. There are successful pilots and business models of DRE livelihood applications in agriculture, agro-processing, dairy, poultry, fisheries, tailoring, etc., which have been tested at the field level by various agencies and have the potential to be replicated in larger quantities. However, this is still only a small fraction of the overall spectrum of livelihood activities throughout India. Against this background, there is a need to: 

a. Scale-up the currently available DRE livelihood applications

b. Support development of new DRE livelihood applications

Scope and Objectives of the Framework

DRE livelihood applications can be defined as applications powered by renewable energy which are used for earning livelihoods directly such as solar dryer, solar mills, etc. The scope may also include DRE applications operating in hybrid mode with grid as long as the system is capable of running standalone in the off-grid mode as well.

Livelihood applications powered by mini/micro-grids would also form part of the scope of this policy, provided such livelihood appliances are energy efficient. The applications with end-use in education and healthcare centres are also eligible under this framework, as these provide livelihoods to teachers/instructors and healthcare workers.

To promote DRE livelihood applications, the policy would focus on the following objectives: 

  • Enable a market-oriented ecosystem to attract private sector for the development and deployment of DRE based livelihood applications 
  • Unlock easy access to end user finance to increase adoption of DRE-based livelihood solutions by linking DRE to existing financing schemes or through new innovative financial instruments.
  • Leverage quality control standards and a strong monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure long-term performance sustainability of DRE-based livelihood solutions and to assess their impact on different populations including marginalised groups and women.
  • Promote skill development for strengthening the service infrastructure at the local level
  • Encourage innovation and R&D to develop efficient and cost-effective DRE livelihood applications
  • Collaborate with other ministries to include DRE based livelihoods applications in their programmes
  • Support creation of livelihood opportunities in technology innovation value chain of DRE applications
  • Support and incentivise adoption of DRE livelihood technologies among women and other marginalised sections such as Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes

Furthermore, in the draft framework the ministry has proposed the following seven steps to be taken up for the promotion of DRE livelihood applications:

  1. Assessment of Demand: Assessing the possibilities or potential of deployment of DRE livelihood applications across sectors of the rural economy and across regions.
  2. Research & Development and Standardisation: Innovation, research and development of DRE technologies to offer tailor-made solutions is important for widespread adoption.
  3. Pilot and Up-scaling of DRE livelihood applications: Piloting and field demonstration of new DRE livelihood applications is vital to ascertain the success of any technology innovation on the ground.
  4. Access to Finance: MNRE will pursue with financial institutions for credit facilitation.
  5. Skill Development & Capacity Building: DRE livelihood applications have the potential of creating new local job opportunities in operations & maintenance and installation/fabrication.
  6. Public Information and Awareness: Awareness about the appropriate DRE technologies and related services amongst the relevant stakeholders is required for taking the necessary decisions.
  7. VII.Programmes of Various Ministries/ Departments: It is pertinent to identify and exploit opportunities for DRE livelihood applications under schemes of various Ministries and Department of Central/State Government.

In the new draft, the ministry has also proposed that schemes of different Ministries/Departments are being implemented by various central /state agencies. The State Nodal Agencies (SNAs) for Renewable Energy having expertise for the RE sector will coordinate with these implementing agencies to provide technical support for DRE livelihood applications.

SNAs may form a State Implementation Cell for DRE based livelihood applications bringing the State Departments engaged in the implementation of such applications on the common platform.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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