The Ashden India Renewable Energy Collective has been formally launched, with the mission of championing renewable energy and ending India’s vicious cycle of energy poverty.
Formed of 20 winners of the prestigious Ashden Awards – the world’s leading green energy prize – the Collective has now received official recognition from the Indian Government, which means that it can bid for contracts and apply for grant funding to improve energy access for people living in India.
Some 400 million Indians – nearly a third of the country’s population – have never used electric light bulbs in their homes. Over two-thirds of the population is exposed to intense indoor air pollution caused by burning biomass in inefficient, smoky cookstoves.
Dr. Gon Chaudhuri, Chair of the Ashden India Collective said:
"Energy access is essential to reducing poverty. Clean electricity from renewable sources enables children to study after the sun goes down, and gives opportunities for parents to generate more income. Recent supportive words from the Government are welcome, but we need action to make energy access a reality for all. We look forward to working in collaboration with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to make renewable energy a reality for all in India."
The Hon. Sarah Butler-Sloss, Founder Director of Ashden said:
"In the 13 years since the Ashden Awards were established we have seen a huge amount of exciting and innovative business models delivering sustainable energy coming out of India. It’s fantastic to see the India Collective now receiving formal recognition by the Indian Government, and even more so, that it is already acting as a force for change in India."
The Collective has already supported advocacy efforts for the Reserve Bank of India to accord ‘priority’ status to bank lending for household renewable energy applications: a development that could transform the sector into a booming industry.
Several Collective members are inputting into plans for the second phase of the the Government’s Jawarharlal Nehru National Solar Mission, which aims to mainstream off-grid solar power.
In April, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced plans to double renewable energy sources by 2017.
Four winners of the 2013 International Ashden Awards will be announced at a prestigious ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society in London, UK on 20 June 2013, which will be webcast on green.tv from 7pm BST.