The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) is planning to spend ₹660 million (~$10.3 million) over the next two financial years on increasing renewable energy awareness in India.
“The president has approved the continuation of the ‘Information and Public Awareness (I&PA) Program’ with an outlay of ₹660 million (~$10.3 million) for FY 2017-18 and FY 2019-20,” the MNRE said in a statement.
The I&PA program is aimed at creating awareness and spreading information about the government’s vision and plans for the furtherance of renewable energy in India. The MNRE intends to deploy all available avenues of publicity and information sharing to inform consumers about the benefits of renewable energy.
Growth in India’s rooftop solar sector has been slow even though various subsidies are being provided to consumers for installing rooftop solar systems. One of the primary reasons for the slow growth is a lack of public awareness about the feasibility, sustainability and availability of solar energy.
If the fund is utilized properly, it will complement India’s solar growth story. As more people become aware of the benefits of renewables, more people will become motivated to play a part in the country’s journey toward a greener and cleaner environment.
Mercom recognized the lack of public awareness about renewable energy years ago and conducted two self-funded surveys by partnering with multiple educational institutions across the country (neither the government agencies nor private solar companies were interested in sponsoring these surveys) to gauge awareness among residential, commercial and Industrial consumers.
In an extensive survey conducted in 2014, Mercom spoke with 1,675 homeowners and businesses face-to-face to ask what they really thought about renewable energy and India’s power situation. It was a daunting task taking several months and dozens of diverse locations. The results were compelling. We were able to come up with first-of-its-kind insight into the awareness and opinions of Indian consumers on renewable energy and power supply. Generally, we found a lot of opportunities for government and the renewable energy industry to invest in educating and informing consumers so they can make better informed decisions and demand renewable energy which would benefit all.
“While it is good for the government to take an active role in enhancing awareness among the population, it also is the responsibility of solar companies to educate the customers. So far private companies mostly care about making a profit and seem to think that it is the job of the government to educate the customers. That’s not how it works. When solar companies educate consumers, they are also creating new customers for themselves. Solar companies spend millions in advertising their brands but do not spend anything to educate consumers and this is a problem,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group.
Mercom’s first survey of attitudes in 2011 found that only 56 percent of Indian consumers had heard of renewable energy or clean energy, and only 27 percent had heard of energy efficiency. Although awareness was low, 71 percent of Indian consumers surveyed indicated they would be willing to pay higher rates for electricity that comes from renewable energy sources.
Three years later, in 2014, Mercom conducted another poll that found solar had emerged as the most recognized source of renewable energy across India, with 91 percent of commercial respondents and 83 percent of residential respondents being familiar with it. Nearly 58 percent respondents in both groups also strongly favored solar energy as a future source of energy generation for India.
The drive to increase awareness took another step forward last year when India’s renewable energy industry and the government agencies that oversee it released a host of mobile and desktop applications for consumers. The apps are designed to increase transparency and encourage greater interaction and understanding of the country’s renewable energy market. Many are available to download for free on iOS, Android, or the web.
Click here for a full copy of the 2014 Mercom India Renewable Energy Awareness Survey
Wendy is a co-founder of Mercom Capital Group, the parent company of Mercom India. Wendy is a contributing editor at MercomIndia.com and is responsible for content quality across the company and products. She has over 15 years of business and finance experience in the energy and technology markets. In addition to Mercom, Wendy has written for many other clean energy-focused blogs and publications. More articles from Wendy Prabhu.