Decentralised renewable energy technologies for sustainable livelihoods: market, viability, and impact potential in India

Key stakeholders are now starting to recognise the potential of using decentralised renewable energy (DRE) technologies such as dryers, silk-reeling machines, vertical fodder grow units, and others to transform India’s rural economy. But several questions on their market potential, viability and impact are also emerging. As part of the Powering Livelihoods programme, this study examines and answers these questions that are emerging as the sector is in its nascent stage while also evolving rapidly. The questions from stakeholders such as government officials, philanthropic funders, investors, financiers, think tanks, incubators, entrepreneurs, and users include the following: There are many DRE livelihood technologies out there. Which technologies should we support and why? Which DRE technologies are relevant in my state or region? Should DRE technologies be promoted when/where there is reliable grid supply? Are these DRE livelihood technologies economically viable? Are they worth financing? How long is their payback period?. DRE livelihood technologies provide a significant opportunity to impact tens of millions of livelihoods across the country. The study recommends that sector stakeholders must extend context-specific support to mainstream DRE livelihoods while appreciating the relative impact potential and the factors guiding the financing, business, and stakeholder engagement models.