GIZ - Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit, Ministry of New and Renewable EnergyGovernment of India logos


For a concise overview of all IGEN-RE activities please also refer to our booklet:

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Rural Electrification & Mini Grids

1. Developing Sustainable Business Models for Solar Mini Grids in Uttar Pradesh

The Government of Uttar Pradesh initiated a pilot initiative in 2011 to provide access to basic lighting services through solar mini grids.  IGEN-RE is providing support to the Uttar Pradesh Non-conventional Energy Development Agency (UPNEDA) in order to strengthen this initiative and develop commercially sound business models, which result in a sustainable programme for solar mini grids in Uttar Pradesh. As a first step, IGEN-RE undertook a study to understand and assess the various solar mini-grid models in India.  The study revealed that although there are several models of solar mini grids, very few have been replicated on a larger scale, primarily because of the high cost of operating in rural areas.  IGEN-RE has therefore decided to adopt a district-level clustered/bundled approach that provides a degree of scale attractive enough for private developers. Plans envisage implementing several pilot projects by the end of 2013 and integrating the lessons learned into a future UPNEDA support scheme for mini grids in Uttar Pradesh.

2. Developing a Business Model for Mini Grids in West Bengal

While there is considerable experience with mini grids in West Bengal, the key challenge continues to be the lack of a suitable incentive mechanism to attract private capital.  IGEN-RE is supporting the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency (WBREDA) in developing an appropriate model for off-grid electrification using renewable energy sources. As a first step, IGEN-RE is undertaking a scoping study/demand assessment across two blocks in Bankura district. Based on the preliminary assessment, IGEN-RE will develop an appropriate incentive model for mini-grid interventions and undertake a pilot project in the sites identified.

3. Supporting Decentralised Power Generation from Pine Needles in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is dominated by large pine forests; pine needles pose a significant risk, given that pine needles are highly inflammable and cause frequent forest fires. In order to address this problem, the Uttarakhand Government has permitted the large-scale collection of pine needles for industrial uses such as bio-briquette manufacturing and, to some extent, for power generation. IGEN-RE is supporting  the Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA) in its effort to establish a sustainable programme for the use of pine needles as a source of energy in Uttarakhand.

IGEN-RE is carrying out detailed studies on techno-economic viability and on the environmental and social impact of the collection and use of pine needles as a source of energy. AVANI, an NGO working in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, has designed and developed a 9 kW gasification plant to generate electricity from pine needles and convert the residue into fuel briquettes for cooking. AVANI is currently planning to pilot a 120 kW gasification power plant. IGEN-RE has initiated a development partnership with AVANI to understand the challenges involved in setting up pine needle supply chains and in developing the relevant capacities and institutional structures.

Market Development for Renewable Energy Products

4. Launching  the SELCO Incubation Centre

The market potential for rural energy services has not yet been tapped on a larger scale by the private sector as there are no successful business models or experienced entrepreneurs.

IGEN-RE is supporting the Small-Scale Sustainable Infrastructure Development Fund (S3IDF) in setting up an incubation centre to support social enterprises that want to deliver clean energy services to the poor. The Karnataka-based solar lighting company SELCO acts as a model to be adapted and replicated in other areas of the country. The centre aims at utilising SELCO’s rural solar business expertise to support new start-up companies in delivering sustainable energy solutions to rural communities. The project aims to improve the business capacities of 25 rural energy entrepreneurs per year, of which five enterprises will be ready for external investment. The project has been operational since September 2012 and has provided incubation support for seven enterprises operating in Rajasthan, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, and Meghalaya.

For more information, please visit, or refer to our flyer:

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5. Upgrading Watermills in Uttarakhand

In Uttarakhand, water mills (locally known as gharats) have traditionally been used to provide mechanical power, primarily for grinding food grains. However, these watermills were being gradually replaced by diesel and electric mills. Recognising the potential benefit of energy from hydro sources in the hilly regions, UREDA has attempted to revive this technology.  IGEN-RE is providing support to UREDA to strengthen the existing Improved Watermills Programme (IWMP) in Uttarakhand with a view to increasing the uptake under this scheme.

As a first step under this initiative, IGEN-RE undertook a preliminary study to assess the current status of IWMP in Uttarakhand. Based on the findings of the study, IGEN-RE decided to implement 3-5 pilots in select districts in Uttarakhand. For the pilots, watermills in close proximity to each other will be selected to form clusters which will then be linked with the existing value chains of self-help groups for value addition and marketing, and with rural banks for financing.

Modernising traditional water mills and linking them with new productive applications can increase the income of rural mill owners significantly.Modernising traditional water mills and linking them with new productive applications can increase the income of rural mill owners significantly.

6. Supporting the Market for Solar Irrigation in Bihar

Crop production and income generation from agriculture are highly dependent on the availability of water for irrigation. Besides the supply of water from precipitation, people in Bihar rely on diesel pumps to extract underground water for irrigation. Not only are these pumps polluting, they are also expensive to run and maintain. Frequent hikes in fossil fuel prices increase the cost of pumping water, making it difficult for small landholders to irrigate their lands.

Distributed energy solutions such as photovoltaic (PV) pumps offer small landholders ways to boost their agricultural income. IGEN-RE is planning to support the promotion of PV-based water pumping technologies in Bihar to increase the financial independence of small landholders and provide them with an opportunity to improve their living conditions.

As a first step, IGEN-RE undertook a technical assessment to develop an overview of the current status of and potential for solar water pumping in Bihar. With the aim of improving the market ecosystem, IGEN-RE has entered into a public-private partnership with Claro Energy, a solar water solutions company, to explore innovative business models and enable end-user financing for solar water pumping in Bihar. IGEN-RE also intends to support the Bihar Renewable Energy Development Agency (BREDA) in implementing its ongoing solar water pumping scheme by providing assistance with capacity development.

For more information please refer to our flyer:

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7. Developing a Market for Improved Cookstoves in Bihar, West-Bengal, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh

The negative effects of traditional cooking practices can be reduced through the use of improved cookstoves (ICS). While improved cooking technologies are available in India, the number of sustainable and economically-viable business models is very limited. Furthermore, stoves are often not adopted as there is no demand, appropriate technologies are in short supply and the market ecosystem is not conducive. IGEN-RE aims to address this problem by developing innovative models for cookstove distribution.

Picture by Samuha

A user acceptance test with six ICS models has been conducted together with the social enterprises Project Dharma and Switch On to analyse the prevalent cooking patterns and user preferences. IGEN-RE also intends to carry out a market assessment study in its focal states to help stakeholders plan their activities in a well-informed manner. Additionally, IGEN-RE is planning to develop awareness-raising/marketing campaigns, as well as mechanisms for end-user finance. IGEN-RE is also assisting WBREDA in designing and implementing a programme to disseminate 20,000 fixed cookstoves.

For more information please see our flyer:

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8. Developing a Programme of Activities (PoA) for Improved Biomass Stoves under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)

To make improved cookstoves (ICS) affordable for rural households throughout India, the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) - with support of IGEN-RE - has registered a Programme of Activities (PoA) to tap international carbon funding in October 2013.

For more information please refer to the UNFCCC website.

Cross-cutting Issues

9. Facilitating Access to Finance for Rural Renewable Energy Enterprises

A lack of financing is widely perceived as the main barrier to scaling up small rural energy businesses. In the absence of a detailed understanding of the risks and challenges of particular technologies, of plant sizes and risk mitigation measures, designing interventions such as incentives, policies and regulatory support to attract investment in the rural renewable energy market is a difficult task. To fill this knowledge gap, IGEN-RE has initiated a study that analyses the various obstacles to financing rural renewable energy enterprises. The study will suggest possible solutions of which the most promising will be implemented through pilots.

10. Involving Large Corporates in the Energy Access Sector

Larger enterprises can play a critical role in helping expand access to energy. Large companies offer scalable delivery channels and financial resources that can complement the initiatives of smaller local and social entrepreneurs who provide localised solutions to meet local needs, last mile service delivery and make use of local capacities and skills. IGEN-RE is, therefore, exploring the possibility of integrating national and international companies into the energy access sector. In August 2013, two stakeholder workshops were organized in Mumbai and New Delhi to explore opportunities for cooperation projects in 2013/14. For further information please refer to the following website:

11. Ensuring Gender Equality in Energy Access Projects

IGEN-RE has initiated a study to understand and analyse how gender aspects are integrated into and addressed within the renewable energy sector in India, especially the energy access space.

IGEN-RE has furthermore established gender indicators for all the projects in its portfolio.  These will ensure that gender mainstreaming is effectively embedded in the project planning, execution and monitoring of ongoing and future IGEN-RE activities.