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.