The market for clean energy products is growing among India’s rural poor, a massive segment that consists of 114 million households and more than 60 percent of the nation’s population of 1.15 billion, according to a new report. Nearly half of India’s rural poor do not have reliable access to electricity and more than 85 percent largely rely on firewood or dung for cooking and heating. As a result, Indian companies are increasingly seeing a market opportunity in providing alternative cooking and electricity products — including solar lanterns, energy-efficient stoves, biomass gasification, and small-scale hydropower — to the nation’s rural market, says the report published by the Centre for Development Finance and the World Resources Institute. Since 2004, the market for green energy products in rural India has grown at an average rate of 36 percent a year and this market could eventually grow to more than $2.1 billion annually, the report said. In addition to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the continued emergence of this market could have profound effects on human health in rural India, as firewood and dung fires produce sooty emissions linked to health problems and premature death.
This post originally appeared on Yale Environment 360.
As markets grow, rural or otherwise, it's going to be important to promote greener solutions. It's good to see those particular connections between energy efficiency on a large scale, and the more particular problems of poor air quality from combustion, come together. I wonder what the comparative speed of implementation between rural and urban areas is? Is there an opportunity for rural areas to take a lead on these issues?