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Solar energy based entrepreneurship and rural development: analysing institutional arrangements that support solar energy entrepreneurs in India

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posted on 2023-06-09, 06:24 authored by Boidurjo Mukhopadhyay
Renewable energy (RE hereafter) has been observed as a potentially significant new source of jobs and rural growth in both OECD and BRICs countries, and a means of addressing environmental and energy security concerns. The global deployment of RE has been expanding rapidly. For instance, the RE electricity sector grew by 26% between 2005 and 2010 globally and currently provides about 20% of the world’s total power (including hydro-power) (OECD, 2012). Rural areas attract a large part of investment related to renewable energy deployment, rending to be sparsely populated but with abundant sources of RE. Several case studies have found that RE deployment can provide hosting communities with some benefits including new revenue sources, new job and business opportunities, innovation in products/practices/policies in rural areas, capacity building and community empowerment, and affordable energy. There is a growing body of evidence on the instrumental role that entrepreneurs and small businesses play in driving local and national economies. The structure of rural economies is essentially composed of small enterprises, which are responsible for most of the job growth and the innovation. Rural development is a key element of strategies to reduce poverty and create income and employment opportunities (UNIDO, 2003). It is important to unleash and harness the creativity of grassroots entrepreneurs but they are posed with many challenges, the biggest being these grassroots inventions don’t scale up. To overcome these challenges and promote rural entrepreneurship, support roles are required; this is also where the importance and role of institutions and their planned arrangements (for example, partnerships) are much debated in both domestic and international forums. This research investigates the current institutional arrangements that support solar entrepreneurship which creates solar energy based income-generating micro enterprises in rural India. In addition to that, it explores the wider implications on rural development that these entrepreneurships have while using these solar RETs. Institutions and individuals promoting rural development see entrepreneurship as a strategic development intervention that could accelerate the rural development process (Ezeibe, 2013). India, being the only country with a national ministry dedicated to RE initiatives (the MNRE, Government of India) and also ranking third on the renewable energy country attractiveness index (E&Y, 2013; 2016) makes an interesting country choice for investigation. The thesis applies a qualitative research method with an exploratory design to understand the interaction process between institutions and how different institutions support rural development to generate an in-depth analysis of existing institutions using a conceptual framework.


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University of Sussex

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