Globally Off-Grid RE Capacity Tripled: Is it because of Solar Pumps?

Globally off-Grid Renewable Energy (RE) capacity has increased three folds and the same has happened for Solar Energy as well. One of the key reasons of this spectacular increase is the Solar Pump programs across the world especially in India.

It is a well-known fact that Grid electrification reach has increased over the years and the same is with the penetration of the Off-Grid Solar (OGS), but the market potential for the OGS has remained same and will remain same worldwide for at least a decade or so because of the below reasons: –

  • A large proportion of the off-grid population who were grid connected since 2010 are receiving inadequate power. So, they have moved from off-grid to grid to unreliable grid and these areas have become potential market for OGS
  • There has been a high population growth in some of the poorly electrified regions
  • Customers that OGS market has already served, need replacement of the device in 2-4 years, so, remain potential market for OGS. Also, as customers get access to electricity, they desire more (higher capacity device or device with additional features or different devices as per their desire for the lifestyle)

Globally, off-grid RE capacity has increased from 2 GW in 2008 to over 6.5 GW in 2017; this increase has happened mainly in the African & Asian countries. As per International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), 53 Million people in Africa & 73 Million in Asia are now using this form of energy. The solar capacity has also increased. In Asia, the RE capacity has increased to 4.3 GW in 2017 from 1.3 GW in 2008, correspondingly Solar capacity has also increased from 11% in 2008 to 30% in 2017.

The abundance of the resource, modular forms of energy and decreased cost makes Solar PV major contributor to this growth. This is coupled with the Govt policies, say for example in India, Solar PV Agriculture pumps & Public utility programs such as Street Lights.

In India, the number of Solar pumps has increased for both Agriculture and drinking water purposes from a mere 11,626 in the year 2014 to over 177,000 in 2018. Surely the financing support from the Government is the key reasons behind such a jump in deployment. Two financing schemes are prevalent, first is 30% capital subsidy and some percentage subsidy from the states. Second is 40% capital subsidy, 20% beneficiary contribution and rest are the loan from National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development (NABARD).

Similarly, Solar street lights has doubled in India between 2014 to 2018 to over 6,20,000. Like Asia, Africa is also emerging as a huge Off-Grid Solar potential market.


  2. Off-grid solar market trends report

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