5 issues to watch as India reaches for ambitious energy access target

India aims to provide round-the-clock power to all households by 2019, an ambitious task for a country where about 300 million people lack electricity today. WRI’s Bharath Jairaj outlines issues that need to be resolved to achieve this.

India’s electricity access challenge is formidable. About 300 million people lack electricity, while an additional 100 million have less than 4 hours of electricity per day, and possibly several million more suffer from unreliable supply. Population growth and an increase in electricity demand each year could further strain the grid.

Despite the scale of the challenge, the Government of India has committed to supplying electricity to all villages by May 2018, and to provide 24-7 power to all households by 2019. Unlike previous targets, this time around, there seems to be more excitement and belief that the targets might indeed be achievable.

The most recent sign for optimism is India’s draft National Policy on Renewable Energy-based Micro-grids, which will establish at least 10,000 renewable-based micro- and mini-grid projects across the country. For the first time, the Indian government will complement grid access with decentralized, smaller-scale systems that supply electricity directly to consumers.

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