UNDP India - Distributed renewable energy for livelihoods
Tuesday, 31. October 2023
3:00 to 4:30pm
The Workshop duration is 1:30 hours.

UNDP India - Distributed renewable energy for livelihoods

UNDP Side Event – Decentralized Renewable Energy for Livelihoods: Opportunities for Convergence with State Rural Livelihood Missions


India stands at a pivotal juncture in its pursuit of sustainable development and climate resilience. At COP26, the nation fortified its climate pledge through the "Panchamrit" elements, amplified its NDCs, and set a net-zero target for 2070 (1). These renewed commitments encompass a 45% reduction in Emissions Intensity of GDP by 2030 (relative to 2005) and a target of achieving 50% of its cumulative electric power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030 (2).

Amidst this backdrop, the emphasis on decentralised renewable energy (DRE) emerges as an increasingly vital and equitable solution, especially given its untapped potential to foster rural livelihoods. A pivotal advantage of DRE technologies lies in their capacity to yield substantial savings on fuel expenditure, particularly in remote regions where transportation expenses comprise a significant portion of the overall fuel cost  (3).

Moreover, the use of decentralised energy sources brings significant social advantages by enabling electricity availability in areas where conventional energy supply isn't economically feasible, enhancing overall economic development prospects (4,5). For a vast rural country like India, decentralised energy sidesteps expensive transmission, offering a sustainable, affordable, and efficient energy solution (6) .

To fully grasp the multifaceted impact of DRE, it's essential to examine its role as a potential linchpin for economic prosperity. The promise held by twelve commercialized technologies, with the significant potential to impact approximately 37 million livelihoods in the Indian landscape, underscores this perspective.(7)

Moreover, these DRE technologies stand to generate an estimated revenue of nearly USD 50 billion for DRE-based enterprises. This spotlight on DRE not only signals its transformative capability across sectors like agriculture, dairying, handloom, and textiles among others but also underlines its key position in carving out new livelihood avenues, enhancing income, boosting productivity, and supporting the pursuit of inclusive and sustainable growth.

The recent times have seen the State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) emerging as a powerful channel for engaging with rural and marginalized populations. Functioning as autonomous entities under State Governments, they spearhead the implementation of the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) at the state level. The NRLM adopts a distinctive approach, utilizing a decentralized framework that enables individual states to initiate projects through their respective SRLM committees. As of now, the mission extends its reach to 9 crore rural households across 742 districts and maintains a deep synergy with village organizations and cluster-level federations. This expansive reach is augmented by the SRLM's existing support structures at both district and block levels, making them primed for the integration of DRE technologies for livelihoods. Given the aims of the MNRE DRE policy, there's a clear alignment with the core functions of the SRLM.

This possible convergence signifies a powerful synergy capable of addressing comprehensive rural development and a shift towards inclusive clean energy. With India standing at the crossroads of the energy transition, the event aims to shed light on how SRLMs can potentially ensure that the energy transition is not only clean but also just and inclusive. Unlocking Potential: Will synergies between SRLMs and DRE be the game-changer for rural livelihoods in India? Dive deep with us into the world of DRE-powered livelihoods at the UNDP Side Event at the Solar World Congress 2023.

Key Questions for Discussion

This panel discussion will explore the role of DRE for Livelihoods and the opportunities for leveraging the institutional structures established under the State Rural Livelihood Missions to promote the uptake of DRE solutions for powering livelihoods. The key questions for discussion are –

1. Exploring Opportunities for DRE in Livelihood Solutions: o In the context of SRLMs, what are the main opportunities that DRE presents for enhancing livelihoods, particularly in rural settings? o How can DRE be integrated into the existing infrastructure and initiatives of SRLMs to maximize its benefits? o What challenges might arise when integrating DRE initiatives with SRLM objectives, and how can they be effectively addressed? o What are the foreseeable socio-economic impacts of widespread DRE adoption in rural communities aligned with SRLMs?

2. Understanding Support Needs for DRE Livelihood Solutions: 

What are the pivotal policy interventions or modifications needed to promote the adoption and scaling of DRE solutions within SRLMs? o How can we ensure seamless technical support for DRE integration? What capacitybuilding measures can be put in place to equip communities for DRE adoption? o What are the financial barriers to DRE implementation in the framework of SRLMs? How can these be addressed to facilitate smoother adoption? o Beyond policy, technical, and financial support, what other ecosystem supports (like community engagement, awareness campaigns, and partnerships) are necessary for the success of DRE solutions within SRLMs?

3. Role of Government and International Agencies in DRE Integration: 

How can government policies and regulations be more conducive to the adoption of DRE as a livelihood enhancer? o What collaborative strategies can be employed between SRLMs, MNRE, and international agencies like UNDP to promote DRE solutions? o How can UNDP and other international agencies facilitate knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and capacity-building initiatives to support DRE adoption in alignment with SRLMs?

Proposed Panel Members

1. Mr. Jeevan Kumar Jethani, Scientist F, Ministry of New & Renewable Energy

2. Mr. Rahul Kumar, CEO, Bihar Rural Livelihood Promotion Society

3. Mr. Bishnu Parida, COO, Jharkhand Rural Livelihood Promotion Society

4. Ms. Rekha Krishnan, Advisor, Clean Energy Access Network

5. Nidhi Sarin, Head, IGEN-Access II, GIZ

6. Hari Natarajan, Programme Specialist, Action for Climate & Environment, UNDP (Moderator)



1 “Cabinet Approves India’s Updated Nationally Determined Contribution to Be Communicated to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.” https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1847812 2 “India Stands Committed to Reduce Emissions Intensity of Its GDP by 45 Percent by 2030, from 2005 Level.” https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1885731 3 IRENA (2014a). Accelerating Off-Grid Renewable Energy IOREC 2014: Key Findings and Recommendations. IRENA, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. 4 Nouni MR, Mullick SC, Kandpal TC. Providing electricity access to remote areas in India: an approach towards identifying potential areas for decentralized electricity supply. Renew Sustain Energy Rev 2008;12(5):1187–220. 5 Chakrabarti S, Chakrabarti S. Rural electrification programme with solar energy in remote region: a case study in an island. Energy Policy 2002;30(1):33–42. 6 Hiremath, R. B., Kumar, B., Balachandra, P., Ravindranath, N. H., & Raghunandan, B. N. (2009). Decentralised renewable energy: Scope, relevance and applications in the Indian context. Energy for Sustainable Development, 13(1), 4-10. ISSN 0973-0826. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esd.2008.12.001. 7 Jain, Abhishek, Wase Khalid, and Shruti Jindal. 2023. Decentralised Renewable Energy Technologies for Sustainable Livelihoods: Market, Viability, and Impact Potential in India. New Delhi: Council on Energy, Environment and Water.


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