Indian solar energy project wins world award

Posted: 22 April 2007

The prestigious Energy Globe award for promoting sustainability energy has been won by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) for helping 100,000 people in 18,000 Indian villages finance the purchase domestic solar systems.

Launched in 2003, the Indian Solar Loan Programme was a four-year partnership between UNEP, the UNEP Risoe Centre, and two of India's largest banks, the Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank. It established a credit market to finance the take-up of Solar Home Systems in South India, particularly in areas where the grid does not yet extend.

In the beginning the programme consisted of an interest rate reduction, market development support and a system for qualifying solar suppliers. Now after four years the interest rate reduction has been removed and 20 separate banking groups now offer solar financing on a commercial basis.

"In the past there has been a lot of money poured into market development schemes, particularly subsidies to lower capital costs, but with little success. The award shows that improving access to finance can help to influence the shift towards cleaner energy in the developing world," said Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.

UNEP has used the expertise gained from the Indian Solar Loan Programme to expand into other areas, such as the solar hot water heating programmes in Tunisia and Morocco and other projects in Indonesia, Mexico and Chile.

The Energy Globe award is presented every year to projects which have helped the cause of sustainable development around the world. In 2007, more than 700 projects were submitted to the jury.

Source: UNEP.