The workshop was curated by NextGen as a platform for corporates and implementing agencies to understand the avenues for CSR partnership in the renewable space.
In India, 400 million people live without adequate electricity access in India and yet the solar lighting market remains nascent with penetration well below five percent. To discuss this issue, India’s largest CSR management company NextGen, in partnership with International Finance Corporation (IFC) and ET CSR, hosted a workshop on ‘Off-grid renewable energy solutions: A CSR opportunity’ on 22nd June 2016 in New Delhi. This first-of-its-kind event saw participation from over 30 corporates and implementing partners including Schneider Electric, Canara, HSBC and Yes Bank among others.
The workshop was curated by NextGen as a platform for corporates and implementing agencies to understand the avenues for CSR partnership in the renewable space. The workshop was organized by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, as part of its Lighting Asia/India programme aimed at increasing access to clean, affordable energy in rural India by promoting modern off-grid lighting products, systems and mini-grid connections. ET CSR supported the initiative towards driving collaborations and knowledge-sharing. The workshop was envisioned as a platform to facilitate linkages between corporates and implementers and other suppliers of quality assured solar lighting products that can help India meet its energy access challenge.
Mr Abhishek Humbad, Co-Founder, NextGen, spoke in his welcome address about the importance of knowledge-sharing and undertaking relevant initiatives in this nascent space. The half-day event, held at IHC, covered a wide array of issues relevant to the renewable CSR space such as nature of current renewable CSR activities being undertaken by corporates, the issues in implementation, alignment with Schedule VII of Section 135 as also the scope for future collaboration among different stakeholder groups. Corporates like TOTAL, Cairn India and Applied Material discussed their current interventions focusing on clean energy.
The workshop also presented a platform for the implementing partners to showcase their projects and products with a focus on off-grid and mini-grid solutions as well as solar and allied products like lamps, home lighting systems, etc. This helped initiate a dialogue on meaningful and credible CSR partnerships while also showcasing the scope for undertaking CSR projects with a renewable focus. The implementing partners, part of the IFC network, included Dharma Life, Onergy and Nature Tech among others.
The event concluded with an interactive session with various corporates highlighting the importance of undertaking relevant projects that align with the business vision of the company as well as undertaking long-term projects that focus on creating shared value.
► Need for strategic renewable CSR initiatives which align with the business goals and vision of the corporate
►The need to differentiate between the capex and opex of the renewable CSR project so as to make the beneficiaries bear a certain component of the opex to build ownership, proper use of renewable products and also enhance the sustainability of the project
►Need to prepare a database of credible implementing partners as the renewable CSR space is too nascent and finding the right partner is one big impediment
►Dovetail the projects with government initiatives in such a way that the benefits — for example tax benefits — can be properly made use of. This is where processional CSR management companies like NextGen feature and can help corporates.