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Using Solar Energy to Substitute Kerosene as a Fuel in India

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Rural Solar Electrification as a substitute for Kerosene Subsidies in India


Sushant Vinchurkar

Rural Solar electrification as a substitute for Kerosene subsidies in India

In a recent article in the Times of India, renowned economist Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar has posed a million dollar question: “For decades, kerosene has been sold at highly subsidized prices on the grounds that it provides essential rural lighting to villages without electricity. However, if electricity is now available in all villages in some states, and will soon cover the vast majority of the rural population, why should the kerosene subsidy continue, especially when it’s well known that a corrupt, leaky distribution system means that little actually reaches the poor?”

The magnitude of subsidy on Kerosene in India: Factual data
Kerosene is primarily used in rural households for lighting (see following figure 1). Subsidized kerosene provided through the public distribution system (PDS) is intended to be targeted to those households that are below the poverty line and have ration cards to prove their economic status.

Figure1 National Sample Survey Office data for 2004–05 showed that approximately 50 per cent of poor rural households did not have a BPL card and, in some states, such as Bihar and Jharkhand, the figure was as high as 80 per cent (Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, 2007).

Figure 2 (Source: IISD report)

Rural Solar electrification as a substitute for Kerosene subsidies in India

Solar as a renewable energy option
As of 31.3.2014, there are 25982 inhabited villages in India that are un-electrified. Due to abundant solar energy available in most parts of the country, a better option for a long term scalable and low maintenance solution would be distributed, community level, renewable energy based solar photo-voltaic (PV) mini...

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