MNRE’s Draft Policy Framework for DRE Open For Comments Till Nov 2

In an office memorandum issued on October 19, the MNRE (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) has issued a Draft Policy Framework for DRE (Distributed Solar Energy) to promote DRE livelihood applications in rural areas of the country. The aim is to provide a conducive environment for the development and large-scale adoption of these applications. The last date for comments/ suggestions has been provided as November 2, 2020.

The notice described DRE applications for rural livelihoods as those that are powered by renewable (solar) energy and used for earning livelihoods directly such as solar dryer, solar-powered cold storage/chillier, solar charkha, etc., or which help in earning livelihoods such as solar lighting systems.

The current policy hopes to encourage the development of applications that can be scaled up, and be supported by multiple other ministries too, that have existing programs in support of rural livelihood creation.

Thus, the scope and objective of the current framework will include:

• Enable a market-oriented framework to attract private sector for development and deployment of DRE livelihood applications
• Easy access to end user finance for DRE livelihood applications
• Introduction of standards, stringent monitoring and evaluation frameworks
• Skill development for strengthening the service infrastructure at the local level
• Encourage innovation and R&D to develop efficient and cost-effective DRE livelihood

The policy, when it is finalised and implemented, certainly offers a lot of potential in India, which is already one of the world’s largest markets for DRE products, with most meant for use in rural India only. While solar lighting products remain the biggest component of DRE applications in absolute terms, in recent years, appliances like Televisions have also become a bigger category, according to Industry reports from bodies like Gogla etc. The body has also highlighted the huge positive impact such applications can have, in detailed studies across the developing world, especially India. As always, cost, and access to finance, remain the biggest challenges to overcome with DRE products, besides technical issues like building products that can run directly on DC current from solar panels.

More importantly with its large captive market and existing abilities plus ambitions on the manufacturing front, India has the potential to be a key global supplier for DRE products, making it a major opportunity for the country.

Access to the International Solar Alliance, that it heads along with France, only gives a ready audience and markets, for breakthrough technologies and products. Even off-grid Solar water Pumps will technically fall under the category of DRE when you consider it.

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Prasanna Singh

Prasanna Singh

Prasanna has been a media professional for over 20 years. He is the Group Editor of Saur Energy International