India survey – thirst for power, from any source


As the Indian solar industry awaits the imposition of anti dumping duties on Chinese, American, Taiwanese and Malaysian solar cells, a consumer sentiment survey has illustrated how badly business is affected by the country's failing power supply.

Consultant Mercom Communications India was told by 93% of commercial respondents to its Indian consumer perceptions on renewable energy survey, business had suffered from power cuts to a ‘moderate to major' degree.

Some 94% of commercial respondents said business would be improved by a regular power supply, 65% of the businesses questioned had a backup diesel generator and, of the remaining 35%, some 22% are considering acquiring one.

The publishers of the survey results, a division of Mercom Capital Group, interviewed 1,700 residential and commercial respondents and found a thirst for energy regardless of the source, with a significant proportion not unduly worried – ‘neutral' – on coal-fired and nuclear power.

The survey results found 47% of businesses were neutral about coal-fired power and 39% of residential respondents voiced the same acceptance of the fossil fuel, with the numbers falling to 41% and 32%, respectively, for nuclear.

Regular supply more important than cost

In further bad news for solar, 74% of businesses said a regular electricity supply was more important than cheaper power and, although 58% of commercial respondents said they favoured solar as a future source of power in India, the figures may further reflect a need for electricity generation from any source.

Most worryingly for the Indian government, only 59% of businesses polled, and 45% of households, said they were aware of the government's renewable energy subsidy program and only 30% of business and 21% of domestic respondents were aware of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency product labelling scheme and the benefits it can bring.

The intense focus on new prime minister Narendra Modi should ensure, however, those awareness numbers go up if he makes any significant decisions related to solar.

The domestic solar industry is hoping the great strides made in promoting the renewable energy source in the state of Gujarat, under Modi as chief minister, will be translated onto the national stage with his first big decision over whether to follow his ministry of commerce's recommendation to impose anti dumping duties on foreign cells.

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