The bad news is that Indians don’t know much about renewable energy, and even less about energy efficiency. The good news? They’re willing to pay higher rates for clean power. Those are a couple of the key revelations from the “India Renewable Energy Awareness Survey,” an attempt by Mercom Capital Group to assess familiarity with, understanding of and interest in renewable energy in the world’s second most populous nation.
Mercom said while just 56 percent of Indian consumers had knowledge of clean or renewable energy, and only 27 percent were familiar with the concept of energy efficiency, 71 percent of consumers were willing to pay higher prices for electricity if it came from renewable sources. In fact, 65 percent said they were willing to pay more simply to have uninterrupted power, period, a result that Mercom said refuted “a common misconception in India that consumers will not pay more for power.” Mercom said this misconception has often led governments to be reluctant about implementing clean energy policies, which in turn has led to decreased revenue for utilities, power cuts and lack of financial resources for new projects.
Other key findings in the survey: 81 percent said a benefit of renewable energy was that it was “good for the environment”; 54 percent cited reduced power cuts as a plus; and 47 percent said they believed renewable energy sources would reduce energy bills. Ninety-two percent of people had heard of solar energy, making it the most identified form of renewable energy, which Mercom attributes to the popularity of solar water heaters. By contrast, only 49 percent were familiar with wind power. Still, 82 percent of respondents wholeheartedly supported renewable energy projects and development, and 90 percent said they thought renewable energy should have government support.
Raj Prabhu of Mercom said that assessing and bolstering understanding of renewable energy is vital to its development in India. He said the survey found a serious lack in understanding and education regarding renewable energy, and said that left unremedied, this would impede process. “How do you expect consumers to support and adopt renewable energy if they don’t understand what it is?” he said. “For any policy or program to achieve broad success, there needs to be a sustained education and communications initiative to get the consumers’ buy-in.”
According to the International Energy Agency, more than 400 million Indians – a third of the population – do not have access to electricity.
Mercom 509 commercial, residential and rural consumers were interviewed for the survey, which was conducted in person due to the lack of available technology in some areas. Mercom said the full survey is available by request on its website.