The stakeholder consultation, organised by CEE, aimed to seek inputs from a variety of stakeholders on challenges, gaps and learning from different experiences from the region in fostering the use of solar energy. About 125 participants including farmers, representatives from women's self-help groups, salt pan workers, youth, cattle herders, panchayat members, and local retailer for solar equipment from 30 villages provided their inputs.
Mr. Pravin Parmar, a farmer and other representatives from IWMI and GERMI shared their experience of forming a solar co-operative in Dhundi village near Anand, Gujarat. They highlighted the use of solar pumps for extracting groundwater for irrigation, importance of forming a cooperative and economic gain by feeding surplus energy in the electricity grid. Women salt pan workers and other farmers shared their experiences of using solar pumps. Other participants raised a variety of queries related to use of solar technology like investment required, the feasibility of existing equipment, benefits and availability of support from different agencies.
The participants expressed willingness to adopt solar technology and readiness to invest 5 to 15 percent of overall cost of installation. However, there are some of the key challenges in fostering the use of solar technology in the region. These include high cost, lack of awareness, the absence of market and repair service in rural areas, perceived risks of failure of a new technology/equipment, the technical feasibility of existing equipment, current rules and regulations for implementation of solar technology and availability of information. Some suggestions by the participants to overcome challenges are making information available through different mediums especially through panchayat meetings, provision of financial support from different agencies, setting up a demonstration of solar technology in the region and training of local people for repair and maintenance of solar equipment. These recommendations along with inputs from the upcoming Ahmedabad, Bengaluru and Delhi consultations will be shared with Indian and German stakeholders especially with the governments in order to inform planning and implementation processes of solar energy initiatives in India.