Solar for powering health and education in India

Worldwide, there is a growing recognition of the role of energy access in the last mile delivery of community services. However, in India, energy access has had a strong household-level focus, while its role as an enabler of better health and education services has not gained enough attention. Even though 96.7 per cent villages in India are deemed electrified, electrification of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and primary schools, two key institutions responsible for the last mile delivery of essential community services, is extremely poor. Besides the lack of a physical connection to the grid, the poor quality and erratic supply of electricity have been adversely affecting both health and learning outcomes. Globally and to some extent in India, solar-based decentralised solutions are being leveraged to address this energy access gap. This study, based on the analysis of secondary data, assesses the current state of electricity access in PHCs and rural primary schools. Given the increasing policy support for solar energy in India, it also examines the experiences, benefits and potential of solar-based electrification. It offers insights on the opportunities for convergence between the objectives of education, health and solar policies in India and the barriers to the same.