Recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay award and Selco India company chairman Harish Hande has called for a new model of development in which the poor will be partners, instead of beneficiaries.
He was speaking at a press interaction held in the city on Tuesday. "We should look at how to use solar energy in appliances which create livelihood. We should look at solar-powered sugar threshers and sewing machines," Hande said. Using solar energy for lighting alone will not remove poverty, he said. Hande said Selco India provides affordable renewable energy services to poor households in India, and gave examples of how solar energy is being used as a catalyst for development.
In Assam, Selco Foundation, along with Centre for North-East Studies and Policy Research, has equipped boat clinics with solar panels so that they can operate throughout the day, if needed.
"The number of patients the doctors saw in a day used to depend on the amount of diesel the boat had. The doctors would not stay overnight because there was no electricity on it, unless the boat had enough diesel. After solar energy was introduced, doctors were able to stay for five days in a go," he said. Hande said collaborating with the government is difficult in India, one reason being that IAS officers are transferred too often.
"We haven't been able to penetrate governments here as much as we have managed in other countries. We have met two sitting presidents of the United States, but it is very difficult to meet ministers in India," he said.
He criticised large-scale solar projects in the country, such as the one in Pavagada in Tumakuru district which is set to generate 2,000 MW electricity by the end of the year. "Large solar plants do not make sense in a country like India. A layer of dust will form on the panels which will reduce the efficiency by 30%. After transmission losses, instead of one unit of electricity, you will get only 0.4 units," Hande said.
Decentralised power generation is the best solution, he said, adding that households will be self-sufficient when there is no transmission loss.