The “India Consumer Perceptions on Renewable Energy Survey,” conducted by Mercom Communications India, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global communications and consulting firm, focused on gauging people’s and businesses’ perception and attitudes toward non-conventional sources of energy in India. Over 1,700 residential and commercial and industrial customers were surveyed.
Seventy-one percent of commercial and 65 percent of residential respondents indicated the environment as the top benefit of solar energy. “Never ending renewable source of energy” was the second most cited benefit by (61 percent of commercial and 55 percent residential respondents), followed by solar being a domestic source of energy (57 percent of commercial and 49 percent residential respondents).
When asked how important it is for India to develop and use solar power, 49 percent of commercial and 45 percent of residential respondents said it is very important. India suffers from acute power shortages, exacerbated by an inconsistent coal supply. A strong industry-driven campaign to educate and inform consumers is needed to get consumers to understand that solar is key to solving power woes and to convert more public opinion from somewhat important to very important when it comes to developing solar in India.
In a surprising finding, when asked how willing would survey respondents be to pay more for solar power, 82 percent of both commercial and residential respondents said they were either somewhat likely or highly likely to pay more for solar power.
This is a fairly significant percentage of consumers saying they would be willing to pay more for solar, and shows that there may be a significant untapped opportunity to sell solar power to consumers that would voluntarily want to pay more for its benefits.
A good example of premium pricing programs for renewable energy is Austin Energy, the eighth largest publicly-owned electric utility in the United States serving more than 1 million residents. Their “GreenChoice” program is designed for commercial and residential customers who voluntarily elect to pay a little more (its latest offering was about $0.02 per kilowatt hour above the regular rate for residential customers) to receive 100 percent renewable power. Sales through the GreenChoice program totaled almost 750,000,000 kilowatt hours in 2012. This is just one example and a model to explore for Indian utilities that need cash badly. It is a way to market clean power and raise additional revenue for solar expenditures while providing an opportunity for businesses to improve their brand.
A slightly higher number of respondents, 59 percent of commercial and 52 percent of residential, said more solar power will have a very helpful effect on India’s power shortage.
Click here for a copy of the survey: India Consumer Perceptions on Renewable Energy Survey
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Raj Prabhu is a recognized thought leader in clean energy markets where his work has influenced policies worldwide. He has a deep understanding of regulatory policy and clean energy markets and his market and opinion pieces are regularly published on both MercomIndia.com and other leading publications globally. Raj is also a regular speaker and presenter on clean energy policy and finance topics at conferences worldwide. Raj attended the KLE College of Science in Bangalore, India for physics and chemistry, and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Hotel and Institutional Management from Johnson and Wales University, Rhode Island. More articles from Raj Prabhu.