As part of its Domestic Efficient Lighting Programme (DELP), India is ditching incandescent bulbs, tube lights and CFL bulbs in favour of energy-efficient LEDs. It is offering subsidised purxhase rates to councils, households and companies who comply with the switch.

Speaking at the Harvard College US India Initiative conference, India’s Minister for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said: “Providing electricity to each household is the mission of the government. It is a big challenge, but we have to take it up as a collective responsibility.

“When all the 710 million conventional bulbs are replaced by LED bulbs it will result in a saving of 100 billion units of electricity.”

Big savings

Launched in July last year, the DELP has already seen 45 million LED bulbs installed across the country. LED bulbs are said to last up to five times longer than standard CFL bulbs commonly found in exterior lighting such as streetlamps. 

It is believed that the increased energy savings and reduced electricity bills driven by this national LED switch will see India save on average $6bn a year after the country-wide roll-out in 2016.

The Indian Government is pushing distribution of LEDs through state-run Energy Efficiency Services (EESL) which offers more than 60 million LED bulbs at subsidised prices. Goyal announced that, as a result of EESL, the price of LED bulbs had fallen by 25% over the last 18 months.

And in a bid to promote Government transparency around energy efficiency, residents can track the LED roll-out progress through an online app which highlights real time electrification of surrounding towns, villages and ‘energy starved’ states such as Jharkhand.

As part of the project, India will reduce its power load by 5GW, saving 10.5bnkWh every year through replacing streetlights alone.

Billion-dollar backing

As the world’s third-biggest emitter of carbon equivalent emissions, India has taken steps to reduce the current 3,013MtCO2e it emits annually – accountable for over 5% of global emissions – by almost a quarter.

While LED retrofits play a big role in this, the country has also announced an extremely ambitious solar photovoltaic capacity plan, which aims to generate 100GW by April 2022. This includes 40GW of capacity sourced from rooftop solar systems.

Currently operating with a 5GW capacity for rooftop solar, India has just secured a $1.5bn loan for an increased capacity project from the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE). The loan will see the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and the BRICS development bank provide $500m each for rooftop solar projects in the country.

This follows on from Government proposals to increase subsidies for rooftop solar to $770m in addition to the new loan. Part of the funding will be spent on providing a 30% subsidy to public institutions in India that install rooftop solar PV within the next six years.

Last year, solar PV finally became cheaper than energy from power plants fired by imported coal as part of the India’s ‘seven horses of energy’ transition. In November 2015, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron to agree on a £10m joint research collaboration into new low-carbon technologies.

Matt Mace

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