The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) has outlined a policy plan to encourage the adoption of decentralised renewable energy (DRE) systems to improve livelihood generation in rural India. These systems include solar dryers, solar-powered cold storage, solar lighting, and solar charkha and can directly help the generation of livelihood. The MNRE noted that existing business models only cover a small proportion of livelihood generation options across India’s 600,000 villages. The national agency motivated a need to scaleup the current stream of DRE systems so that these gaps can be filled. Under the proposed policy framework includes aspects of creating a market-oriented framework to attract the private sector the development of DRE systems, easier access to end-user finance for DRE livelihood options, implementing of monitoring and evaluation frameworks, building skills, and improving service infrastructure at local levels and encouraging innovation to improve the cost efficiency of DRE systems. The agency also stated that it would update the list of DRE application systems in consultations with the stakeholders. The MNRE has opened a portal for suggestions and comments by stakeholders which are open until November 2, 2020.
As per the National Solar Mission, a target of 2 GW has been set for off-grid and decentralised solar projects by 2022. In October 2020, MNRE had invited bids for the evaluation of off-grid and decentralised solar PV applications to assess the status of DRE systems across the country. The project will be carried on a trial basis where the consulting firm will collect data from at least five states for each of the applications. In August 2020, the ministry also issued a draft notification outlining the specifications for lithium batteries that can be used for off-grid solar applications such as solar lighting and lamps.