Approximately 300 million people in India are estimated to lack access to energy with an even higher number experiencing intermittent access. Since a majority of the population resides in rural areas, energy access acquires strategic importance for poverty reduction, quality of human capital, livelihood opportunities, inclusive economic development and social justice.
With the mandate of the Companies Act, 2013, companies can facilitate equitable and sustainable energy access in communities that lack energy access or face intermittent access, through CSR. However, while the market potential of clean energy has been discussed and deliberated by many reports, the CSR angle has not seen much review.
Samhita’s ‘Energising Development – CSR in Clean Energy: What are India’s Top Companies up to?’ analyses the clean energy initiatives of the top 100 companies with the largest CSR budgets on the BSE 500. It highlights trends, gaps and provides recommendations for more informed and holistic approaches to clean energy through CSR.
‘Energising Development’ is supported by the Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation and International Finance Corporation.
What did we find?
- Low CSR presence in Clean Energy: Of the 100 companies surveyed, only 39 had programmes in clean energy. This is lower than the level of activity in education, health, sanitation and livelihoods.
- Industry-wise engagement with Clean Energy: Companies with relevant competencies or communities around their operations were most likely to execute clean energy programmes. Power, Oil & Gas and Heavy Engineering industries had the highest proportion of companies with programmes in clean energy.
- Popularity of product-based approach: The majority of the 39 companies were focused on product-based solutions for the different stakeholders. Solar streetlights, solar lamps and minigrids were the most popular products among them.
- How to price energy solutions: Stakeholders raised concerns about the sustainability of projects once a company exited the project. There were varying opinions on whether beneficiaries should pay for energy solutions.
- Preference for solar in Renewable Energy CSR programmes: Most companies having clean energy CSR programmes employed some form of solar energy.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss the findings and recommendations, do write back to us and connect with us on social media. We would love to engage you in understanding how clean energy and energy access interventions can become catalytic forces in community development.