Part one of this blog series explored the need to replace outdated incandescent light bulbs for the rural poor in India and why LED globes are an ideal solution at many levels.
Part two explores C-Quest Capital’s (CQC) efficient lighting program where over 14.5 million LED blubs have already been supplied to over 3 million households. By the end of the program, it will be estimated that up to 50 million LEDs will eventually be installed to many of India’s most rural and disadvantaged communities.
CQC’s Efficient Light program is a Verra verified project (AMS-II.C. ver.15) providing efficient lighting technology (LED bulbs) and increased access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable modern energy for disadvantaged communities in rural India.
The program meets 7 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) across climate, social and economic empowerment.
The simple yet powerful act of switching incandescent lighting (ICL) for LED bulbs is improving the living and working conditions of millions of people in rural India and is helping the country reduce its carbon emissions. The project is highly additional as there are no mandatory policies or regulations in India that mandates the installation of LED lighting in households.
While LEDs are an ideal product to reduce power consumption and electricity bills, CQC identified two significant barriers to uptake, the first being a relatively high upfront product cost, and ensuring that positive perception of product quality/claims is maintained.
The initial costs of purchasing an energy efficient LED globe can be beyond India’s rural poor even at subsidised rates depressing take up rates, creating a technology divide compared to urban areas which are more able to afford them. The higher cost barrier has also meant that LED globes are reliant on cost savings over time to justify their purchase and must meet higher standards of reliability and product performance over a long period of time.
“Nidhi (Beneficiary), Uttar Pradesh, India.
The bulbs (incandescent) that we had earlier were very dim. They would also fuse very frequently. They also strained the eye. These bulbs are brighter, the glass bulbs weren’t this bright.
The CQC Difference
CQC addressed this issue holistically by subsidising the initial cost of each distributed globe to match the cost of an incandescent bulb through an exchange program. LEDs are supplied through distribution centres, and door to door. ICLs can then be exchanged where they are crushed and certified as recycled in their various components. CFL’s are also collected and recycled where feasible following electronic waste guidelines.
CQC has also partnered with suppliers that meet strict technical specifications and are backed by a 3-year warranty instead of a standard 1 year offered by other manufacturers. A dedicated phone number is also provided for product support and to ensure that any faulty products are replaced.
Upon installation, robust audits and spot checks are conduced to ensure best practice and quality and each household is issued a unique ID to prevent double counting with cloud data management to track utilisation.
Making an Impact
Recipients of the CQC supplied LEDs are already noticing changes with energy bills dropping significantly with household disposable incomes increasing between 10-20%.
Reductions in health risks for rural families have also been achieved by providing lighting with higher lumens enabling them to read, cook and work in their homes without straining their eyes.
“Sashi (Beneficiary), Uttar Pradesh, India.
I sew clothes. My machine doesn’t work anymore, so I sew with my hands. I can manage to do it better now. I don’t find it difficult as before, because our house is well lit now. I feel like working because there is abundant light
It’s estimated that the program has reduced +1 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere each year resulting from power savings. This has resulted in reducing the frequency of power outages and has had the extra benefit of delaying potential investment in more coal-fired power plants and giving more time for renewable technologies to come online.
In part 3, we will be exploring the personal stories of those currently benefiting from CQC’s Efficient Lighting program.